Duvar English – Reuters
The United States has appeared to reject Turkey's offer for a compromise with regards to the deployment of the Russian S-400 missile system, saying its policy remains unchanged.
"Our policy vis-a-vis the S-400s has not changed," State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Feb. 10, when asked whether the United States is considering Turkey's suggestion that it may not need to make the S-400s operational all the time.
"Russian S-400s are incompatible with NATO equipment, they threaten the security of NATO technology, and they're inconsistent with Turkey's commitments as a NATO ally," Price said.
“We have and continue to urge Turkey not to retain this system."
On Feb. 9, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said that Turkey is open to “negotiations” with regards to the deployment of S-400s in a way similar to the one Greece reached following the acquisition of Russia’s older S-300 defense system in the 1990s.
“Whatever the model used for the S-300 on Crete, we’re open to negotiating,” Akar told reporters in the capital Ankara.
He said that Turkey does not plan to use S-400s on its soil “all the time.”
“These systems are used according to the state of threats. We will make decisions based on that,” he said.
Greece placed the S-300s on the Greek island of Crete in 1999, after Turkey pressured original owner Cyprus to dispose of it.
It is only during military drills or tests that Greece uses the S-300 system on Crete.
Washington says the S-400s pose a threat to its F-35 fighter jets and to NATO's broader defense systems. Turkey rejects this, saying S-400s will not be integrated into NATO and purchasing them was a necessity as it was unable to procure air defense systems from any NATO ally on satisfactory terms.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said last month that Turkey was in talks to procure a second shipment of S-400 missile defense systems from Russia and planned to hold talks on the issue.
Price also said on Feb. 10 that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to speak with his Turkish counterpart, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, in the coming days.
"I would expect the secretary and his Turkish counterpart will have an opportunity to chat, to connect in the coming days,” Price said.