“There could be more sanctions to follow, but frankly, what we’d really like is the S-400 not to become operational,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Bloomberg in an interview.
The US wants Turkey not to make “operational” the Russian S-400 missile system it purchased from Moscow, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday.
“There could be more sanctions to follow, but frankly, what we’d really like is the S-400 not to become operational,” Pompeo told Bloomberg in an interview.
“That’s our objective.”
“It’s what we’ve been talking to the Turks about for months and months. We’ve told them that it’s simply incompatible with the F-35.”
President Donald Trump reportedly told Republican senators during a closed-door White House meeting on Tuesday that he is not in favour of implementing penalties on Turkey for its acquisition of the Russian S-400 anti-air missile system.
Trump has repeatedly voiced reluctance to sanction Turkey over its purchase of the S-400, doing so last week when announcing Ankara’s removal from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. Turkey’s expulsion is slated to be completed by the end of March 2020.
The Trump administration has maintained that the S-400 could expose the advanced fighter to possible Russian subterfuge and is incompatible with NATO systems.
Turkey, however, counters that the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO systems and would not pose a threat to the alliance.
Trump blames the Obama administration for the current row over its refusal to sign a deal with Turkey to sell it American defence firm Raytheon’s Patriot missile system.
Pompeo called on Ankara to reconsider its decision, saying “We’re all working – everyone’s working together to do our best”.
“We’ve made clear to the Turks that the activation of the S-400 is unacceptable,” he added.
On Twitter, a Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said the US and Turkey “must find a way to avoid the damage to the relationship that comes from Turkey activating” the S-400 missile system.
“When it comes to Turkey, we are looking for a Win-Win, not a Lose-Lose,” Graham wrote.
President Trump reportedly told Lindsey Graham, who was at the White House meeting, to persuade Turkey not to activate the S-400 systems in order to avoid the sanctions.
“I’m in the camp of, if they don’t activate the S-400, the sanctions don’t have to be applied. My hope is to persuade Turkey not to active the system because it’s so disruptive to the relationship,” Graham told Defense One, a US-based media outlet that focuses on defence and national security.
“My pitch to Turkey was: Let’s stand down on the S-400, let’s start free trade agreement negotiations, which would change the Turkish economy, would help the American economy, will give us a much closer economic relationship,” Graham said.
“They’ve had to be removed from the F-35 program, that’s a $10 billion loss. If there was a free trade agreement negotiation that resulted in a product it would fundamentally change Turkey’s economy. What I’m asking for is cooler heads to prevail.”
Ankara numerous times stated that Turkey will actively use the Russian air-shield systems to counter threats to the country.
The delivery of S-400 components began on July 12 and is set to continue through April 2020.