The US Department of State warned Turkey on Sunday that it risks new sanctions if it continues to buy Russian weapons.
“We continue to make clear to Turkey that any significant new Russian arms purchases would risk triggering CAATSA sanctions separate from and in addition to those imposed in December 2020,” a State Department spokesperson told Greece’s state broadcaster ERT.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in an interview aired Sunday that he has no qualms about buying a Russian defense system despite condemnation from the United States and its other NATO allies.
“I explained everything to President Biden,” Erdogan said in an interview with host Margaret Brennan that aired on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
“Nobody to interfere” with defense systems Turkey buys
He said that the United States’ refusal to deliver F-35 aircraft that Turkey agreed to purchase and Patriot missiles it wished to acquire gave Turkey no choice but to turn to Russia for its S-400 antiaircraft missile system, a point of contention between Turkey and the NATO alliance during both the Trump and Biden administrations.
“In the future, nobody will be able to interfere in terms of what kind of defense systems we acquire, from which country at what level. Nobody can interfere with that. We are the only ones to make such decisions,” Erdogan said.
He added: “Are we going to keep on expecting delivery of weapons from other countries that didn’t give us those weapons?”
Turkey deployed the first batch of the Russian air defense systems in mid-2019, which triggered sanctions from the U.S. It was excluded from the F-35 jet fighter program and five aircraft Turkey has paid for have not been delivered.
Erdogan slammed the U.S. over the F-35 program, stressing that Turkey has paid $1.4 billion but its jets were not delivered. “Why have these five fighters not been delivered to me? I have this money,” Erdogan said.
Erdogan: Relations with the US not healthy
Discussing another point of contention with the United States, Erdogan said the U.S. must choose between supporting Turkey and offering support to Kurdish groups that wish to carve out a state from an area that includes parts of Turkey. The Kurdish forces had joined the U.S. and Turkey in combating ISIS forces in Syria.
Erdogan called these Kurdish groups “terrorist organizations.“
“Receiving this kind of support should be stopped once and for all,” he said, adding: “Turkey is (a) NATO member and we are in a position to be obliged to forge a solidarity under the roof of NATO. But so long as the terrorist organizations receive such logistical support that upset us … we would be vocal about this.”
On Thursday, the Turkish President declared that relations between Turkey and the United States were “not healthy.”
“I cannot say that a healthy process is running in Turkish-American ties… We bought F-35s, we paid $1.4 billion and these F-35s were not given to us. The United States needs to first sort this out,” Erdogan reportedly told the press after attending the UN General Assembly in New York.