The US must choose between remaining Turkey’s ally and siding with terrorists, Vice President Fuat Oktay said Wednesday, Anadolu reports.
The United States must choose. Does it want to remain Turkey’s ally or risk our friendship by joining forces with terrorists to undermine its NATO ally’s defense against its enemies?
— Fuat Oktay (@fuatoktay06) April 3, 2019
Oktay said on Twitter.
His remarks came in response to his US counterpart Mike Pence’s tweet in which he said that Turkey must choose whether it wants to remain a critical partner of NATO, or continue its purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system.
“Turkey must choose. Does it want to remain a critical partner in the most successful military alliance in history or does it want to risk the security of that partnership by making such reckless decisions that undermine our @NATO alliance?” Pence said.
Pence also reiterated the US is suspending shipments of F-35 equipment and material to Ankara.
Turkey joined the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program in 2002 and has invested more than $1.25 billion. It also manufactures various aircraft parts for all F-35 variants and customers.
Following protracted efforts to purchase air defense systems from the US with no success, Ankara decided in 2017 to purchase the Russian S-400 air defense system.
However, Turkey’s decision to procure the S-400 has led to significantly strained ties, and Washington earlier this week suspended delivery of parts and services necessary to Turkey’s receipt of the F-35 stealth jet fighter.
US officials have suggested Turkey buy US Patriot missile systems rather than the Russian S-400, arguing it is incompatible with NATO systems, and exposes the F-35 to possible Russian subterfuge, including covert efforts to obtain critical information on the jet, which could then be relayed to Russia.
The S-400 is Russia’s most advanced long-range anti-aircraft missile system and can carry three types of missiles capable of destroying targets including ballistic and cruise missiles.