U.S.-Turkey relations tense over purchase of S-400

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated the American position vis-à-vis the Turkish acquisition of Russia’s sophisticated S-400 surface-to-air Missile Defense System. “We are continuing to have conversations. I think the Turkish government understands the American position quite clearly. I think I heard the vice president speak to that yesterday as well. Our position hasn’t changed. There’s great opportunities for the United States and Turkey to work closely together and I had a good long conversation with my, with the Turkish foreign minister yesterday, and I’m very confident we’ll find a path forward,” Mike Pompeo said.

Despite the issuance of repeated warnings from the United States over the dangers of Turkey’s aspiration to integrate Russian-made weaponry into its NATO established Defense array; in the aftermath of a meeting with his American counterparty Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu stated: “We have already purchased that. We have already purchased. It is a done deal.” In response to a remark made by a reporter, according to which “Secretary General and Pompeo seem to suggest that there is still some sort of negotiations,” Cavusoglu said: “I don’t know what Secretary General said but U.S. has been hoping that but from the beginning this process has been very transparent with everybody, not only with our ally United States but everybody. Therefore, we have told them I don’t know how many months ago, a year ago, that it’s a done deal. So, we cannot cancel it.”

Minister Cavusoglu took the opportunity to underscore Ankara’s position. He stressed that regardless of Western rhetoric, Turkey’s relations with Russia were not an alternative to its alliances with NATO or its continued ambition of becoming a member state of the European Union. According to Cavusoglu: “So, any country in our region, actually, has no other option but should balance its relations with everybody in the region. And our relations with Russia is not an alternative to NATO allies or not an alternative to our EU policy or our European partnership and ambitions.”

Earlier, the U.S. State Department’s deputy spokesman, Robert Palladino, said Pompeo had warned Cavusoglu about the “potentially devastating consequences of Turkish military action” in Syria and called for a resolution to the cases of “unjustly detained U.S. citizens” in Turkey.

In response Ankara’s top diplomat slammed the U.S. statement, saying it failed to reflect the content of the meeting he held with his American counterpart and contained issues that were not discussed. “With regards to this readout, I was there and we know what we talked and such language was never used. In Syria particularly, they never mentioned such things about the unilateral actions of Turkey. We just agreed to continue working together through this task force and also joint working group and Jim Jeffrey (U.S. Special Representative for Syria) comes to Turkey very often,” the Turkish Foreign Minister said.