The US warnings against Turkey have been building steadily since Ankara began accepting S-400 deliveries from Russia. The US says it is worried about espionage. “The F-35 can not coexist with a Russian intelligence platform that will be used to learn more about its capabilities,” the White House stated.
The Turkish government criticized the move. According to a report by the state news agency Anadolu, the State Ministry in Ankara announced that this would inflict “irreparable damage” on the bilateral relations between the two countries. It is an “unfair” step that “does not do justice to the spirit of the Alliance” and has no understandable reasons.
On Wednesday, the United States confirmed Turkey’s expulsion from the F-35 programme, and Washington is expected to announce sanctions later this week, Bloomberg reported.
“Turkey has, for all intents and purposes, abandoned the West,” said Bloomberg, advising Western nations to advance without Turkey.
“The S-400 deal with Turkey, until recently a close ally of the West, should be viewed as a milestone in Russia’s deeper involvement in the region. It signals the rise of a strategic alliance between Moscow and Ankara, one that could cost Turkey its membership in NATO,” the The Jordan Times noted.
Western officials are concerned about their military personnel and hardware as well as NATO bases stationed in Turkey. A NATO member since 1952, Turkey has the second-largest army in the alliance.
“There is no precedent for kicking a nation out of NATO, and no one is seriously contemplating doing that to Turkey,” Israeli newspaper Haaretz commented on Wednesday. “Despite the tensions with the West, Turkey is not interested in leaving NATO either,” it added, underscoring that the alliance contributes significantly to Turkey’s economy and military.
On Wednesday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said: “Turkey is an important NATO member.” Stoltenberg spoke at the Aspen Security Forum. Pentagon officials chose not to respond to a question about whether Turkey would be allowed to remain in NATO.
A Pentagon official also avoided answering when asked by the media about whether Turkish personel who worked with F-35s provided information to Russia.
The S-400 “undermines the commitments all NATO allies made to each other,” said the DoD statement however. Washington sources told Ahval that the White House will likely announce the CAATSA sanctions on Friday.