(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –Vice President Mike Pence warned Turkey against going ahead with its planned purchase of the Russian-made S-400 missile system, hours after the Turkish foreign minister said the acquisition was “a done deal.”
“We’ve also made it clear that we’ll not stand idly by while NATO allies purchase weapons from our adversaries, weapons that threaten the very cohesion of this alliance,” Pence said Wednesday while addressing the “NATO Engages” summit in Washington, DC.
“Turkey’s purchase of a $2.5 billion S-400 anti-aircraft missile system from Russia poses great danger to NATO and to the strength of this alliance,” he added, saying that Turkey could face consequences for its action.
But speaking at the same event just hours earlier, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu called Ankara’s acquisition of the Russian system “a done deal.”
“S-400 deal is a done deal and we will not step back from this,” Çavuşoğlu said.
US officials have long warned Turkey that it would not be allowed to acquire the F-35 stealth jet if it goes ahead with the missile system purchase.
The US believes that the Russian-system is incompatible with the F-35 jet, saying that Moscow could use it to gather intelligence on the aircraft.
“To me the incompatibility is that you have an S-400 in close proximity and an S-400 likely to have Russians connected to it,” Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, the head of US European Command, told a small group of reporters at the Pentagon Tuesday.
“It just gives them greater opportunity to analyze the aircraft and its capabilities,” he added.
On Monday the Pentagon announced it would halt all F-35 equipment transfers to Turkey unless Ankara irrevocably abandoned plans to acquire the S-400 system.
“Turkey must choose. Does it want to remain a critical partner of the most successful military alliance in the history of the world? Or does it want to risk the security of that partnership by making reckless decisions that undermine our alliance?” Pence said Wednesday.