ANKARA (Dispatches) – Turkey called on the United States on Wednesday to avoid steps harmful to bilateral relations after the U.S. State Department spokeswoman reiterated Ankara would face "real and negative consequences” for acquiring Russian S-400 systems.
Turkey’s foreign ministry spokesman said the comments by the State Department’s Morgan Ortagus on Tuesday were not in line with the spirit and content of talks between presidents of the two countries at the G20 summit last month.
"We invite the U.S. side to avoid taking wrong steps, excluding diplomacy and dialogue, that will harm relations,” spokesman Hami Aksoy said, adding Ankara had still not received a response to its proposal to set up a working group to look into the impact of the S-400 purchase.
President Tayyip Erdogan said after meeting President Donald Trump in Osaka that the United States did not plan to impose sanctions on Ankara for buying the S-400s, which he said would arrive in the first half of July. Trump said Turkey had not been treated fairly but did not rule out sanctions.
The United States says the S-400s are not compatible with NATO’s network and could compromise its Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter jets, an aircraft Turkey is helping to build and planning to buy.
Moscow and Ankara finalized an agreement on the delivery of the S-400 in December 2017.
Back in April 2018, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin said in Ankara that they had agreed to expedite the delivery of the S-400. At the time, it was said that the delivery could be made between late 2019 and early 2020.
The S-400 is an advanced Russian missile system designed to detect, track, and destroy planes, drones, or missiles as far as 402 kilometers away. It has previously been sold only to China and India.
Ankara is striving to boost its air defense, particularly after Washington decided in 2015 to withdraw its Patriot surface-to-air missile system from Turkish border with Syria, a move that weakened Turkey’s air defense.
Before gravitating towards Russia, the Turkish military reportedly walked out of a $3.4-billion contract for a similar Chinese system. The withdrawal took place under purported pressure from Washington.