Ankara, June 14 (IANS) Turkey will retaliate if the US imposes sanctions over its purchase of the S-400 air defence systems from Russia, the country’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Friday.
“There are steps we will take (against the US) if they impose (sanctions) against us. These steps will be announced when needed,” Cavusoglu told state-run Anadolu Agency in an interview when asked about possible US sanctions over the deal.
“We will not step back on Russian S-400 deal no matter what the consequences will be,” Cavusoglu said.
The Minister did not specify which measures Ankara would take against Washington but stressed that “an understanding that has been stipulating Turkey’s silence and full obedience to the US impositions is now over”.
Cavusoglu also echoed President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s earlier statement that the Russian systems have already been bought. “A part of the price has been already paid and the rest will be done through credits. Now we are discussing the deployment with Russians,” he said.
Recalling that the US has not answered Turkey’s calls for the supply of air defence systems for 20 months and is still hesitant to give assurances about a congressional approval if Turkey wants to buy the US Patriot systems, the Minister also questioned the reason behind Washington’s strong reaction against the Turkish decision on S-400s.
“Why do they create such problems about it?” he asked, repeating Ankara’s proposal of setting up a technical committee to study US concerns of the deployment of the S-400s and F-35 aircraft together on the Turkish soils, the report said.
“Turkey’s location is not a place like heaven. Our neighbours are not Mexico and Canada. We face a lot of threats,” Cavusoglu said.
The US has repeatedly warned it will cut off Turkey’s purchase of F-35 fighter jets if Ankara goes ahead with plans to buy Russian S-400 air defence system, expected to be delivered as early as next month, triggering a heated dispute between the two NATO allies.
Last week, Pentagon announced in a letter that it would halt F-35 fighter jet training for Turkish pilots and all Turkish trainees in the programme must leave the country by July 31.