Russian President Vladimir Putin harshly criticized the United States for pressuring Turkey to abandon its purchase of the Russian S-400 missile system by threatening to impose sanctions against Ankara.
“Turkey, a NATO ally, has decided to buy the world’s most advanced air defense system in its class, the S-400. So what? Why is it a crime?” Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency quoted the Russian president as saying.
“This is certainly unfair,” he added.
His remarks came at a gathering of global news agencies in St. Petersburg. Turkey’s pursuit to acquire Russia’s cutting-edge air defense system raised eyebrows among Ankara’s Western allies.
On Friday, the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services approved a measure in National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that directs the Secretary of Defense to submit plans to Congress to remove Turkey from F-35 program in response to the ongoing imprisonment of the U.S. citizens and the purchase of S-400 system.
The measure sparked a reaction from Ankara, with Turkish Foreign Ministry vowing to retaliate if the U.S. suspends delivery of the fighter jets.
Turkey also says the F-35 program is a multinational one, of which Ankara is part of.
“Turkey entered into the F-35 project many years ago, and the delivery will start in the coming years. It is not related to the purchase of the S-400,” Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli said.