Turkey should cancel the purchase of Russia's S-400 missile defense system, if it wants F-35 fighter jets, U.S. NATO ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison said.
According to her, Russia is trying to "continue to probe ways" to disrupt and weaken the NATO alliance, therefore a Russian missile system under the same military control as an F-35 fighter jet was unacceptable.
"You have to make a choice. You can have one or the other but not both," she told CNBC, before repeating that Turkey stands to "lose association" with the F-35s that they have already ordered.
Hutchison said that NATO was "watching carefully" as the idea developed but it didn't want to see any threat to NATO's role as a "security umbrella for all of Europe and North America."
The U.S. ambassador to NATO said the U.S. was trying to convince the EU it was making a mistake. "NATO must be the priority. We must not have competition within the EU that would take away the dollars that we need for the strength to repel adversaries," Hutchison added.
Earlier, CNBC reported, citing sources, that the U.S. has given Turkey two weeks to cancel its S-400 deal with Russia. Otherwise, Washington will reportedly slap sanctions on Turkey or remove Ankara from the Lockheed Martin's F-35 programme. "Turkish officials reportedly have until the end of this week to cancel the purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile defense system and instead buy Raytheon’s U.S.-made Patriot missile," the report says.
Ankara underscored that the purchase of military equipment is its sovereign affair and ruled out the possibility of abandoning its S-400-related plans.
Moscow and Ankara inked a $2.5 billion agreement for the delivery of four S-400 batteries to Turkey in late 2017. The first of the missile systems are expected to be delivered in July.
Ankara has repeatedly emphasised that its commitment to the S-400 deal is non-negotiable, and has insisted that the batteries are not a threat to NATO, the U.S. or the F-35 in any way. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in turn earlier called Ankara’s purchase of the S-400 a “done deal” and a “matter of national sovereignty”.
The head of the political research of the Center for Modern Turkish Studies, Yuri Mavashev, speaking with the correspondent of Vestnik Kavkaza earlier, noted that there will be tough response from Ankara. "The international dignity is more important for Ankara, so it will not make decisions under pressure, especially since Erdogan said many times that there is nothing to discuss here. The United States, putting forward an ultimatum, clearly understands that Turkey will not fulfill it, provoking it to harsh statements," he said.
"There was a definite agreement between Turkey and Sudan, according to which Turkey may count on having its bases near Saudi Arabia. The United States confronts the Turks with the Arabs, now the Americans are waiting for Turkey to take an anti-Katar union into the military ring (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt), expecting any drastic step to say that "Ankara behaves inadequately, we will build relations with the Arabs and protect them." That is why the S-400 ultimatum was issued," the expert drew attention.