US has not replied to Turkey’s letter on S-400s: Defense minister
The United States has not yet replied to a letter sent by Turkey for resolving the S-400 air defense system deadlock, the Turkish defense minister has said, reiterating that the Russian weaponry will be used only when the country is under threat.
“The S-400s are a defensive system. It will be used when needed against a threat and danger. It has no harm to anybody if there is no intended attack against Turkey,” Hulusi Akar said at a meeting in the Central Anatolian province of Kayseri on Feb. 26.
Akar’s statement follows a Pentagon official’s recent remarks that Turkey should not retain the Russian S-400 air defense systems as they are no compatible with the NATO equipment while arguing that the Turkish government refused to purchase Patriot air defense systems from the U.S. in the past decade.
Ankara’s decision to acquire the Russian systems was a sovereign move that came as a result of Washington dragging its feet in selling the Patriots to Turkey, Akar recalled.
Akar added Turkey sought addressing the concerns of the U.S. over the deployment of the S-400s on its soils but a letter sent to Washington to this end has not been replied to yet.
The former Trump administration imposed sanctions on Turkey through the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) in December last year and ended Turkey’s participation of the F-35 stealth fighter project. It has rejected to send four F-35 fighters which Turkey had already paid for.
“Imposing certain restrictions on Turkey, particularly about the F-35s, over the S-400s is not befitting the spirit of alliance,” Akar said.
US should have partnered with us in anti-ISIL fight
Akar also raised Turkey’s disturbance with the U.S.’s continued partnership with the YPG in eastern Syria in the fight against ISIL. Turkey considers the YPG as the offshoot of the PKK in Syria, and, therefore, as terrorists. The U.S. says it cooperates with SDF whose majority is composed of the YPG members.
Recalling Turkey had neutralized 3,700 ISIL members in Syria as the only armed forces directly combating the radical terrorists, Akar said, “Thus, the U.S. had to cooperate with Turkey, a member of the NATO for 70 years and its ally, instead of picking the YPG, a terror organization.”
There are those within the U.S. administration who say that granting weapons to the YPG and partnering with this group was wrong, Akar said, repeating once again the Turkish government’s determination in fully eradicating the terrorist threat against the country.
EU should support Turkey’s anti-terror fight
The defense minister also touched on last week’s killing of 13 Turkish citizens by the PKK in a cave in northern Iraq and criticized the EU for its weak statements.
“The EU mentions human rights. How about the right to life of our unarmed, innocent citizens who were martyred in Gara [region]? The advocates of democracy should stop this hypocrisy,” he said.
Turkey expects a clear stance against the PKK without buts and ifs, he stressed. “We certainly think that the U.S. support to the YPG on the excuse of fighting DAESH is wrong. Because the PKK is equal to the YPG; there is no difference between them,” he said, using another acronym for ISIL.