Turkey's Defense Minister Hulusi Akar made the comments during a conference on American-Turkish relations in Washington on Monday, stressing, “Threats, ultimatums and deadlines are not constructive and contrary to the spirit of an alliance.”
Early this month, the US threatened that it would suspend all “deliveries and activities” related to Turkey's procurement of F-35 stealth fighter jets over Ankara's plans to purchase the S-400, Presstv Reported.
“We firmly believe that linking the S-400 to the F-35 project is unfortunate,” Akar further said, adding, “We expect the United States and other project partners to honor their commitments.”
The S-400 system, whose full name is the Triumph Mobile Multiple Anti-Aircraft Missile System (AAMS), is an advanced Russian missile system designed to detect, track, and destroy planes, drones, or missiles as far as 402 kilometers away. It has previously been sold only to China and India.
Moscow and Ankara finalized an agreement on the delivery of the S-400 missile systems in December 2017. Back in April last year, both sides announced that they had agreed to expedite the delivery of the systems, possibly At the time it was said that the delivery could be made between late 2019 and early 2020.
The deal has since drawn concerns among some of Turkey’s NATO allies, particularly the US, claiming that the missile batteries are not compatible with those of the military alliance. Washington says it will not allow F-35s to operate alongside the S-400 systems.
Last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Washington had told Ankara it could face retribution for purchasing the Russian air defense systems under a sanctions law known as CAATSA.
Elsewhere in his remarks on Monday, the Turkish defense minister reiterated Turkey’s offer to hold technical talks with the US to address “technical concerns” over the S-400 purchase. “We believe this issue can be solved through constructive dialogue,” he said.
Aker added that Ankara is also assessing a renewed offer from Washington to buy US-made Patriot missile defense systems.
“Recently we received the restated offer for the Patriots. This offer is now on the table, we are studying it carefully” he said.
Ankara is striving to boost its air defense, particularly after Washington decided in 2015 to withdraw its Patriot surface-to-air missile system from Turkish border with Syria, a move that weakened Turkey’s air defense.
Before gravitating towards Russia, the Turkish military reportedly walked out of a $3.4-billion contract for a similar Chinese system. The withdrawal took place under purported pressure from Washington.
Turkey’s relations with the US have been strained over a range of issues.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been critical of Washington for supporting Kurdish armed groups in neighboring Syria that he says are responsible for terror attacks inside Turkey, among other issues.
The Turkish leader has also slammed US officials for rejecting his requests to hand over Fethullah Gulen, a powerful opposition figure living in the US, whom Ankara accuses of having masterminded a failed coup in mid-July 2016.