U.S. issues ultimate warning to Turkey
Turkey has a little more than two weeks to decide whether to complete a complex arms deal with the U.S. or risk severe penalties by going through with an agreement to buy Russia's S-400 surface-to-air missile systems, according to multiple people familiar with the matter.
By the end of the first week of June, Turkey must cancel a multibillion-dollar deal with Russia and instead buy U.S.-made Patriot missile defense system — or face removal from Lockheed Martin’s F-35 program, forfeiture of 100 promised F-35 jets, imposition of U.S. sanctions and potential blowback from NATO.
As it stands now, the U.S. State Department’s current offer is the final one, multiple sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity told CNBC, when asked whether the deadline had room for more extensions.
"NATO countries need to procure military equipment that is interoperable with NATO systems. A Russian system would not meet that standard," said a U.S. State Department official who requested anonymity given the sensitivity of the matter.
"We underscore that Turkey will face very real and negative consequences if it completes its S-400 delivery," the official added.
On May 17, at the meeting with speaker of Russia’s Federation Council upper parliament house Valentina Matviyenko in Istanbul, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has pledged that the contract for Russian S-400 missile systems will be implemented.
At the same time, Ankara has sent military servicemen to Russia to undergo a training course on the use of the S-400 missile systems, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said.
"We have sent our specialists to Russia to undergo a training course on the use of the S-400 systems, the course will start today and last several months," the Milliyet newspaper cited him mas saying. "The number of the personnel keeps changing, all of them have their own goals," Akar added.
The head of the political research of the Center for Modern Turkish Studies, Yuri Mavashev, speaking with the correspondent of Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that there will be tough response from Ankara. "The international dignity is more important for Ankara, so it will not make decisions under pressure, especially since Erdogan said many times that there is nothing to discuss here. The United States, putting forward an ultimatum, clearly understands that Turkey will not fulfill it, provoking it to harsh statements," he said in the first place.
"There was a definite agreement between Turkey and Sudan, according to which Turkey may count on having its bases near Saudi Arabia. The United States confronts the Turks with the Arabs, now the Americans are waiting for Turkey to take an anti-Katar union into the military ring (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt), expecting any drastic step to say that "Ankara behaves inadequately, we will build relations with the Arabs and protect them." That is why the S-400 ultimatum was issued," the expert drew attention.
"I think that an ultimatum is also a signal to opposition political forces in Turkey led by ex-PM Ahmet Davutoglu and ex-vice-premier, ex-foreign minister Ali Babacan. It's beneficial for Washington to stimulate this opposition, which will seek to topple Erdogan. All opponents of Erdogan understand that he will not be able to abandon the S-400 purchase. Therefore, he will have to get tough with the U.S.," Yuri Mavashev explained.
"One should expect revitalization of the Turkish army, work on the African direction will be intensified, perhaps Ankara will announce that, in connection with the ultimatum, it is forced to reconsider all security issues. If the U.S. wants to wreak havoc, push the peoples against each other (Turks against Arabs, Arabs against Iran and so on), then the ultimatum works precisely on it. For Russia, this is bad, because the Middle East is very close to our borders, and Russia is interested in counteracting this chaos by all possible means," the head of the political research of the Center for Modern Turkish Studies concluded.