Washington has repeatedly slammed Ankara’s purchase of Russian-made S-400s, asserting that the missile systems are incompatible with NATO security standards and might compromise the operations of the new US fifth-generation F-35 fighter jets.
Retired US Admiral James Stavridis, the former supreme allied commander of NATO, has described the Washington-Ankara row over Turkey’s upcoming deployment of the Russian-made S-400 missile defence system as “a disagreement between friends”.
He underlined that Turkey will continue to be a “central actor in the NATO alliance”, adding that Washington’s “view of this [the S-400 deployment] is we were probably late to come to Turkey with an acceptable alternative of a US system”.
The former NATO commander also pointed out alleged increasing Russian activity on the alliance’s borders, expressing hope that Turkey, “because they are closer to Russia than most of the other NATO nations, can have a positive role in finding the zones of cooperation” which could contain tensions.
Ex-Turkish Defence Minister Fikril Isik, for his part, blamed Washington for prodding Ankara to approach Russia in order to tackle Turkey’s defence issues.
He called the situation “a hot potato with Turkey and the United States” rather than “between Ankara and NATO”, adding that “as a last option, really, we went to Russia”, especially given that the US Patriot proposal did not include updated training…