German and French Positions at Odds Over Turkey's Purchase of Russian S-400 Systems
The Turkish foreign minister recently blasted US attempts to impose an ultimatum on Turkey over its S-400 purchase, noting that no foreign state has the right to tell Ankara what it should or shouldn't do.
Deputy spokeswoman for the German government Ulrike Demmer has stated that Berlin would prefer that Ankara drop its deal with Russia, inked in December 2017, for the procurement of S-400 air defence systems.
"The intention of Turkey to buy the Russian missile system is being discussed within the alliance and it is a controversial issue for NATO. The German government would welcome Turkey reconsidering its decision [on the S-400s]", she said.
The spokeswoman explained that alleged problems with the interoperability between NATO equipment and the Russian air defence systems are the primary concern for the alliance when it comes to this issue.
However, Berlin and Washington's positions on the S-400s haven't met much understanding in Paris, with the French Foreign Ministry reminding other states that Turkey has a sovereign right to buy the military equipment it needs.
"The purchase of military equipment by Turkey is, obviously, a sovereign decision. Integrity of the [NATO] alliance is equally important and the interoperability of military capabilities of allies is important for it", the ministry said.
The statements come amid ongoing tensions between Washington and Ankara over the latter's decision to buy Russian S-400 systems. As the delivery date for the S-400s draws near, the US has increased pressure on Turkey, reportedly suspending the F-35 training programme for Turkish pilots in line with threats to halt the delivery of the fighter aircraft and considering a bill aimed at imposing sanctions against Ankara.
Turkey has slammed the US sanctions threats and argued that no country can "give instructions to another on how to act". Furthermore, Ankara has vowed to take reciprocal steps if Washington goes through with its threat of sanctions.
F22 Raptor & F35 Lightning II
The US believes that not only would the Russian air defence system be incompatible with NATO equivalents, but that it could possibly reveal weaknesses in the F-35 to Russia, rendering the jet's stealth capabilities useless.
The US has been trying to convince Turkey to ditch its deal with Russia ever since it was inked in 2017, but without success. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly stated that the deal will proceed as planned and that the S-400s will be delivered on schedule in July 2019. Erdogan has also suggested creating a working group to iron out US concerns regarding the S-400 systems, but the US has not agreed to participate.
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