Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu speaks at "NATO Engages: The Alliance at 70," an event presented by the Atlantic Council, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the Munich Security Conference, and additional partners on April 3, 2019, in Washington, D.C. Twitter photo via Mevlut Cavusoglu.
Turkey on Wednesday pushed back on the US ultimatum of either the F-35 or a Russian-made missile defense system, reiterating that the S-400 purchase is a “done deal.”
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, speaking at an event sponsored by the German Marshall Fund as part of the NATO 70th Anniversary event in Washington, D.C., said Turkey can and should buy both the S-400 and the F-35, arguing the country “doesn’t have to choose between Russia and any others. … Nobody, neither west nor Russia, should ask us to choose,” he said.
His comments come one day after Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told reporters he was confident Turkey would change its mind on the S-400 and purchase the US Patriot air defense system instead, enabling them to remain a valuable F-35 partner.
The Russian-made S-400 is serving an “urgent need” for air defenses in Turkey, said Cavusoglu, who added that Turkey has also been a long-term partner on the F-35.
Even though US officials have repeatedly said the two systems cannot function in the same country, Cavusoglu said the combination wouldn’t cause harm to any countries operating the F-35 and emphasized that Turkey is working to “educate” the US Congress on that.
The purchase of the S-400 is part of an increase in trade with Russia, which despite NATO pressure, Cavusoglu says is necessary because “Turkey should have good relations” with Russia.