The US announced it is removing Turkey from its F-35 fighter jets programme, after Ankara received the first parts of a Russian missile defence system.
The move had been expected after Ankara began accepting delivery of the advanced Russian missile defence system last week. The first parts of the S-400 air defence system were flown to the Turkish military airbase northwest of Ankara on Friday, sealing Turkey’s deal with Russia, which Washington had tried for months to prevent.
The US says the “F-35 cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence-collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced capabilities”.
In a statement on Wednesday, White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said, “Unfortunately, Turkey’s decision to purchase Russian S-400 air defence systems renders its continued involvement with the F-35 impossible.
“The United States has been actively working with Turkey to provide air defence solutions to meet its legitimate air defence needs, and this administration has made multiple offers to move Turkey to the front of the line to receive the US Patriot air defence system.
“Turkey has been a longstanding and trusted partner and Nato ally for over 65 years, but accepting the S-400 undermines the commitments all Nato allies made to each other to move away from Russian systems.”
Turkey’s foreign ministry said the move was unfair and could affect relations between the two countries.
Ankara has called for the United States to reserve the decision that will “cause irreparable wounds in our strategic relations”.
“The fact that our proposal to establish a working group with the participation of NATO in this regard is left unanswered is the most obvious indicator of the prejudice on the US side and the lack of the will to resolve the issue in good faith,” added the Turkish diplomacy.