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Erdogan says ‘no backtrack’ on Russia S-400 missile deal

Published: Updated:

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday that NATO-member Turkey would take delivery of Russia’s S-400 missile defence system in July -- a deal that has created tensions with the United States.

“The issue of S-400 is an issue directly related to our sovereignty and we will not backtrack from that,” Erdogan said in a televised speech.

Turkey will lose F-35 warplanes

The United States will stop Turkish forces flying and developing its F-35 stealth jets if Ankara goes ahead with the purchase of a Russian air defence system, the US envoy to NATO said on Tuesday.

Washington and its allies have urged fellow NATO member Ankara not to install the S-400 Russian system, saying that would let the technology learn how to recognise the jets, which are built to avoid tracking by enemy radars and heat sensors.

But Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan has refused to budge, exacerbating a diplomat rift already widening over conflicting strategy in Syria, Iran sanctions and the detention of US consular staff.

“Everything indicates that Russia is going to deliver the system to Turkey and that will have consequences,” the US Ambassador to NATO, Kay Bailey Hutchison, told reporters in Brussels.

“There will be a disassociation with the F-35 system, we cannot have the F-35 affected or destabilised by having this Russian system in the alliance,” she said.

The United States says the jets, made by Lockheed Martin Corp., give NATO forces a number of technological advantages in the air, including the ability to disrupt enemy communications networks and navigation signals.

Turkey produces parts of the F-35s fuselage, landing gear and cockpit displays. Hutchison said Ankara was an important partner in that production but that security concerns about Russia were paramount.

“So many of us have tried to dissuade Turkey,” she said.

The Pentagon has already stopped training Turkish pilots on the jets.

Erdogan is expected to discuss the issue with US President Donald Trump at the G20 summit in Japan this week. One senior NATO diplomat said that was probably the last chance of finding a way out.