America Pressures Turkey to Destroy S-400 that Ankara Just Bought

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( — November 24, 2019) — Under the threat of sanctions, the United States has asked Turkey to get rid of or destroy the Russian anti-aircraft missile systems S-400 it bought from Moscow, DW reports.

Experts, however, say that such pressures are a “grave mistake” for Washington, as it could lead to Ankara’s departure from NATO and a complete turn towards Russia.

A senior US State Department official told Western media that the acquisition of the Russian S-400 by Turkey was unacceptable and that sanctions could be imposed. He stated that Ankara had “freedom of maneuver” to return to the negotiating table and suggested Turkey destroy, return or find any other way get rid of the S-400.

At the same time, a US official pointed out that Washington did not deny Ankara a chance to acquire a “Patriot” battery, which he said met the Turkish air defense needs.

Washington’s decision to exclude Turkey from its fifth-generation F-35 fighter-bomber production program due to the S-400 and threats of sanctions further corrupted the Ankara-Washington relationship. However, despite pressure from the White House and the Pentagon, Ankara is not yielding. The reasons for this stalemate are many: economic, geo-political and military, seeking to resolve all disagreements it has with America.

Ankara plans to put the Russian S-400 systems in service as early as April 2020.

Western media has estimated that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a “winner” in this story. He is said to have once again succeeded in undermining the West’s alliances.

According to some experts, this agreement with Russia is a signal to America and NATO members that Ankara is preparing to pursue a stand-alone defense policy and does not need tutors. On the other hand, in their view, this kind of Washington policy could create a deeper divide in NATO and distance Turkey from the Alliance.

While this is not the first time a NATO member has acquired a Russian anti-aircraft missile system, since Greece has owned the S-300 since the 1990s, the Turkish-Russian agreement was reached at a time of heightened tensions between the West and Russia, which has caused perhaps the greatest concerns in Washington in recent decades, and an internal crisis in the Alliance.

Before turning to the S-400, Turkey had been trying to buy the US Patriot for years, but the US refused to sell it, forcing Ankara to trade with the Russians.

The S-400 “Triumph” is a long and medium range air defense system. It is able to shoot down planes and tactical ballistic missiles, as well as drones up to 27 kilometers high.