The White House has cancelled Turkey’s contracts in the $1.5 trillion F-35 fighter jet program. The United States Press Secretary wrote, “Unfortunately, Turkey’s decision to purchase Russian S-400 air defense systems renders its continued involvement with the F-35 impossible. The F-35 cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced capabilities. This will have detrimental impacts on Turkish interoperability with the Alliance.”
In response, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a gathering of his Justice and Development Party in the capital Ankara, “Are you not giving us the F-35s? OK, then excuse us but we will once again have to take measures on that matter as well and we will turn elsewhere.” Erdogan said he hoped US officials would be "reasonable" with sanctions, adding that Turkey may also reconsider its purchase of Boeing aircraft from the US.
According to Aljazeera, Russia's Rostec state conglomerate said Russia would be ready to supply its SU-35 jets to Turkey if Ankara requested them. Ties between Turkey and the US have been strained recently because of the White House’s support for the Kurdish militia YPG in Syria, which Turkey considers a “terrorist organization.” Aaron Stein, director of the Middle East program at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, told CNBC, “Turkey has made the political choice to absorb what will be a tremendous financial cost for a system of questionable military value, but of immense political value for a Turkish leadership determined to act more autonomously from the United States.”
Back in 2017 the US warned Turkey about buying Russia’s S-400 system for $2.5 billion because of there would be political and economic consequences. Compared with U.S. systems, the Russian-made S-400 is believed to be capable of engaging a wider array of targets, at longer ranges and against multiple threats simultaneously. Nearly 13 countries have expressed interest in buying Russia’s S-400 missile system and China, India and Turkey have already signed purchase agreements with the Kremlin. China, which is embroiled in a trade battle with the U.S., is in the middle of receiving its final shipment of the S-400 system.
Yesterday in Washington, President Trump vetoed a resolution that would block the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia. President Trump said, “This resolution would weaken America’s global competitiveness and damage the important relationships we share with our allies and partners.” Lawmakers who support the bill have criticized the Saudis' strikes in Yemen where thousands of civilians have died, and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Trump also vetoed a bill that would have limited the sale of weapons to the United Arab Emirates, which is an important coalition partner to Saudi Arabia in its ongoing military campaign in Yemen.
According to NPR, Human rights groups have repeatedly criticized Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners for the high number of civilian casualties since they started their offensive four years ago against Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen. The U.S. military assists the Saudi-led coalition with refueling jets and targeting training.