No turning back from Russia S-400 deal: Çavuşoğlu

No turning back from Russia S-400 deal: Çavuşoğlu

WASHINGTON
No turning back from Russia S-400 deal: Çavuşoğlu

Turkey will not turn back from a major arms deal with Russia despite the U.S. suspension of Ankara from the F-35 fighter-jet program, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on April 3.

"The S-400 deal is a done deal and we will not step back from this," he told a think-tank forum in Washington, where he is taking part in 70th anniversary celebrations of NATO.

The United States said April 1 that it was halting shipment of F-35 parts of Turkey as well as joint manufacturing work due to Ankara's purchase of the S-400 missile defense system from Russia.

Çavuşoğlu said Turkey turned to Russia as it could not buy U.S. Patriot missiles and quoted President Donald Trump as saying in an unspecified phone call that his predecessor Barack Obama had made a "mistake" not to sell the system to Ankara.

The Turkish foreign minister said the S-400 deal did not signal a warning toward Russia.

"We disagree with Russia on many issues," Çavuşoğlu said, pointing to Moscow's "aggression" in the Black Sea and pledging never to recognize Russia's annexation of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine.

"We have been working with Russia," he said.

"But it doesn't mean that we are undermining the alliance and we agree with Russia on everything. There is no shift on our foreign policy."

U.S. policymakers worry that Russia will obtain data from the F-35s to hone the ability of the S-400 to shoot down Western planes.

Çavuşoğlu said the S-400 system would be separate from NATO infrastructure in Turkey with no linkages to the F-35s.

He also said Turkey has proposed to the United States that they form a technical working group to determine that Russian S-400 missile defense systems do not pose a threat to U.S. or NATO military equipment.

The U.S. administration and Turkey should explain to the U.S. Congress why Ankara had to purchase the S-400 missile system, he also told.

s400, NATO, Russia, Turkey, Çavuşoğlu