Turkey announces not to give up Russian S-400 missile deployment

Recep Tayyip Erdogan put a stop to Donald Trump's proposal to sell him American Patriot missiles in exchange for abandoning the S-400s.

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Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Donald Trump on November 13 in Washington. JIM WATSON / AFP

Turkey does not intend to refrain from deploying Russia's S-400 missile defense systems bought from Russia, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday (November 14th) aboard the plane that was taking him back to Ankara after a quick visit in Washington where he received a warm welcome from his American counterpart, Donald Trump.

Presented as an alternative solution by the US administration, the eventual sale of US Patriot missiles to Turkey has not changed anything. Mr. Erdogan's desire to place himself under the Russian umbrella remains intact.

"I told Trump we were ready to buy the Patriot. But we consider that the proposal to buy them and abandon the S-400 is an attack on our sovereignty, " he explained to reporters in the presidential plane. "There can be no question of leaving the S-400 and turning to the Patriots," he concluded.

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NATO's eastern pillar since 1952, Turkey has stunned its allies by buying from Russia S-400 missile batteries, originally designed to decipher and shoot down Alliance aircraft. Their deployment is a real headache for NATO because it involves the presence of Russian military technicians on Turkish soil, who will have access to the data captured by the powerful radars that are equipped with the S-400. Moscow will be able to easily discover the technological secrets of the new F-35 stealth aircraft.

"Very serious problems"

Turkey's troubled game in the Alliance has tended to stretch its ties with its traditional partners. Just after the delivery of the first S-400s, which arrived in Turkey in July, Washington suspended Turkish participation in the F-35 manufacturing program.

For now, the suspension is only partial, Turkish defense companies continue, in slow motion, it is true, to produce some parts for the F-35. It will be total from March 2020, which could be a fatal blow to the Turkish defense industry, depriving it of contracts worth billions of dollars.

The extreme complacency shown by Donald Trump against his Turkish counterpart during his visit to Washington on Wednesday, had the essential objective to make him give up the use of the S-400.

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As missiles have not yet been deployed, the US administration thought it could convince Mr. Erdogan to leave them in their boxes and never activate them. It is only at this price that Turkey could avoid the imposition of sanctions provided for by the "Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act" (Caatsa). Adopted in 2017, this law provides for penalties against States or companies that have concluded commercial agreements with Russian entities.

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