Vector illustration of the President of the USA Donald Trump and Recep Erdogan portraits. USA and Turkey relations

Turkey-US F-35s Clash: 5 Geopolitical Effects You Need to Know

1. Russia’s s400 transfer to Turkey has begun

While the first deliveries of the S-400 to Turkey started more than 10 days ago, the defence ministries of both Turkey and Russia continue to publicly report on the details of every arrival sent from Russia. On July 19, the Turkish Defense Ministry said one more Il-76MD cargo aircraft carrying parts of the missile system arrived at the Murted air base near Ankara and pointed out that the supplies were being received “as scheduled.” Ironically, while Turkey does not seem concerned about America’s reaction to this, Russian media outlets are continuously pondering the risks that this deal may bring to Moscow in terms of American discontent, as well as certain Russian politicians reportedly having doubts over the deal. Another reason for Russia’s scepticism is Erdogan’s uncertain future as popularity for opposition grows. However, transfer of the system is expected to continue unless further developments arise.

2. US threatens to remove Turkey from the F35 program

The response from the US has been negative as expected, as the US said last week it was removing NATO ally Turkey from the F-35 programme, as long threatened, after Ankara purchased and received Russian S-400 missile defence systems that Washington sees as a threat. Furthermore, they have threatened to impose sanctions on Turkey if the transfer continues. It remains to be seen whether the US will go through with these threats, as Turkey is expected to continue installing the Russian system.

3. Erdogan playing tough

Despite the US’s threats, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has maintained his stance and dismissed the intimidation from Washington. Erdogan stated that said that Turkey will turn elsewhere for fighter jets if the United States does not sell it the F-35 aircraft, adding that Ankara planned to start using the Russian S-400 missile defence system in April 2020. Erdogan said: “Are you not giving us the F-35s? OK, then excuse us but we will once again have to take measures on that matter as well and we will turn elsewhere.” This is a bold move by Erdogan, but also one that puts Washington in a tough position, as should they stop the sale of F35s to Turkey, they will probably enhance the issue they are ‘punishing’ them for, which is buying weaponry from Russia.


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