US President Donald Trump said Tuesday the U.S. will not sell Turkey advanced F-35 fighter jets over Ankara’s acquisition of the Russian S-400 anti-air system.
“We have a situation where Turkey is very good with us, and we are now telling Turkey that because you have really been forced to buy another missile system we’re not going to sell you the F-35 fighter jets,” Trump told reporters during a Cabinet meeting at the White House.
“It’s a very tough situation that they’re in. And it’s a very tough situation that we’ve been placed in the United States,” Trump added. “With all of that being said, we’re working through it. We’ll see what happens, but it’s not really fair.”
Trump’s announcement came during a cabinet meeting at the White House on Tuesday, blaming the administration of his predecessor Barack Obama for the impasse and expressing sympathy toward Turkey’s decision.
Trump pointed the finger of blame at the Obama administration for refusing to sell Turkey an American alternative – the Patriot missile defense system – until after the S-400 purchase was complete.
“As soon as they found out that they were going to have to buy the missiles, comparable missiles, not as good a missile, but a comparable almost missile from Russia – all of a sudden everybody started rushing and saying to Turkey, ‘Okay, we’ll sell you the Patriot missile,'” he said.
“But by that time, Turkey had already signed and paid a lot of money to Russia for the missile system that they were not allowed to buy here, foolishly. Because Turkey is a NATO member.”
Trump, however, made no mention of sanctions his administration had threatened to impose on Turkey over its Russian air-defense acquisition.
He made the comments a day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed the first batch of equipment for the missile defense system was delivered from Russia.
Erdogan said all the Russian S-400s received by his country will be fully deployed in April 2020, and that Ankara seeks to produce the missile defense systems jointly with Moscow.