Relations between the NATO allies deteriorated sharply amid Washington’s threats to sanction Ankara over its purchase of a Russian air defence system and to walk out on promises to sell the country Lockheed’s F-35 jet.
President Donald Trump has admitted that the US has treated Turkey in an unfair way over the S-400 missile system squabble, but blamed his predecessor Barack Obama for the situation.
“It’s a problem, there’s no question about it…But [the Turkish president] was prohibited from buying until he said he’d bought something else, and then as soon as he buys something else everybody says ‘ok you can buy’. You Can’t do business that way. Turkey has been a friend of ours and we’ve done great things together,” Trump said, speaking to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the G20 summit on Saturday.
“You can’t treat people that way, like the Obama administration did,” Trump continued.
Asked whether Washington would slap Ankara with sanctions for purchasing the S-400 instead, as US officials have repeatedly threatened, Trump said “We’re looking at it.”
Reiterating that Erdogan “wanted to buy the Patriot” but was refused, Trump said he had “become friendly” with the Turkish president, and that “you have to treat people fairly…And I don’t think he was treated fairly.”
Russia and Turkey penned a $2.5 billion contract on the delivery of four battalion sets’ worth of S-400s to Turkey in December 2017, nearly a year into Trump’s presidency. In December 2018, the US cleared a $3.5 billion Patriot missile deal for Turkey, but Ankara has yet to accept, saying the terms proposed by the US simply aren’t as good as its deal with Russia. Turkish officials have said that they are still looking at buying the US systems, but not in place of their S-400s, whose deliveries are expected to start in July.