NATO is facing its biggest crisis in decades after Turkey purchased Russia’s S-400 anti-aircraft system according to senior US sources. Daily Express reports in its article NATO crisis as Turkey defies allies to buy Russian anti-aircraft system - ‘Unacceptable’ that Turkey is a key member of the organisation. The S-400 can track multiple targets and shoot them down. Washington has pulled out of selling Ankara the F-35 Lightning II to Ankara, their most advanced stealth fighter jet.
With advisers from Moscow assisting Turkey’s operation of the system it is feared Moscow gain intelligence on the F-35 systems. General Jack Keane, former vice-chief of staff for the US Army and currently an advisor to Donald Trump told The Times: “The US is right in cancelling the sale of F-35s to Turkey but this poses a real problem for NATO.
“Purchasing the S-400 system literally flies in the face of NATO policy against acquiring Russian military systems and is unacceptable. We’ve not had tension like this between NATO countries for decades.”
Mr Keane described Turkey, which hosts two bases used by the United States Air Force, as: “The pathway to the Middle East and Asia and the most strategically located country in the alliance”.
The deal secured between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin has been described by one diplomatic source as helping Mr Putin undermine NATO.
Concerns have been raised over future military co-operation between Washington and Ankara. Eric Edelman, the US’s former ambassador in Turkey who also worked in the Pentagon said: “US-Turkish relations are entering a serious crisis and I suspect it will be a deep and prolonged one. Turkey has not been a reliable Nato ally for some time but there is no mechanism for expelling bad allies. Turkey is an important country and a fully democratic Turkey can and should be a strong ally for the US and NATO.”
The US had warned Mr Edogan about the consequences of making such a purchase. Turkey had purchased four F-35s so far but they will not leave US soil and the other 96 ordered have had their deals cancelled. Washington will now ask other allies to build the 900 parts made by Turkish manufactures for the aircraft. The procedure is expected to cost $600million (£480million).