President Trump is expelling Turkey from the F-35 fighter jet program because the NATO allies insist on buying anti-aircraft systems manufactured in Russia, the White House announced.
"Unfortunately, Turkey's decision to buy Russian S-400 air defense systems makes their continued involvement in the F-35 impossible," said White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham. "The F-35 can not coexist with a Russian news gathering platform used to learn more about its advanced capabilities."
The announcement came amidst a steady stream of Russian military aircraft delivering the advanced anti-aircraft systems to Ankara week. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has insisted on his right to deploy the fighters alongside Russia's technology, which could lead to a stalemate that could have far-reaching consequences for the transatlantic alliance.
"Turkey has been a long-standing, trusted partner and NATO ally for over 65 years, but the adoption of the S-400 undermines the commitments made by all NATO allies to move away from Russian systems," said Grisham. "This will be detrimental to Turkey's interoperability with the Alliance."
The break between the United States and Turkey is a victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin, less than four years after the Turkish forces shot down a Russian fighter jet operating on the Syrian-Turkish border. Two Russian freighters landed in Ankara on Wednesday, the Turkish government said, bringing with them the 1
"The delivery of the S-400 long-range air defense system is ongoing," said the Turkish Ministry of Defense.
US. and NATO officials have repeatedly warned Turkey that the turnaround to Russian weapons would lead to the loss of the F-35, but Erdoğan called the S-400 deal on Sunday "the most important agreement in [Turkish] modern history."
"The United States continues to value our strategic relationship with Turkey," said Grisham. "As NATO allies, our relationships are multi-layered and not just focused on the F-35, our military ties are tight and we will continue to work closely with Turkey, addressing the limitations of the S-400 system in Turkey be aware. "