NATO sees possible solution in U.S.-Turkey row over Russian missile deal

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he hopes the United States can iron out its disagreements with Turkey, which stem from Ankara's decision to purchase a Russian-made missile defense system and led the U.S. Congress to block the sale of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters to Turkey
Friday, 14 September 2018 20:57

It is possible for longtime NATO allies Turkey and the United States to reach an amicable deal over Ankara’s deal to purchase Russian-made missile defense systems, despite growing animosity between Washington and Ankara, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Friday.

"It is well known there is a disagreement between the United States and Turkey on this issue," he said at the Heritage Foundation event in Washington, DC on Friday.

"Yes, there is a problem, there is a challenge with the decision to buy S-400 combined with [US fifth generation jets] F-35," Stoltenberg said. "I welcome the dialogue this addressed, but at the same time, I think it is important to recognize the importance Turkey is playing to the whole alliance.

Stoltenberg said a decision regarding what kind of military capabilities to acquire is a national one, but NATO’s concern is interoperability.

"I hope that it's possible to find a solution because what we see now is a challenge for all of us that there is this disagreement on the issue of S-400," he said. "NATO has been a kind of platform for this dialogue. Turkey is a very important ally for NATO for many reasons, but not least for its geographic location."

NATO has served as a platform for direct talks between the United States and Turkey to address the issue surrounding the procurement of the S-400.

US officials have warned that if Ankara goes ahead with its plans to purchase the S-400 system, the United States could withhold the transfer of F-35 jets to Turkey. In addition, the US Congress recently passed legislation that would block the transfer of F-35 jets if Turkey buys the S-400.

In December 2017, Russia and Turkey signed a loan agreement for Moscow to supply Ankara with the S-400.

Earlier this month, Turkish President Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan confirmed that Turkey expects to receive the S-400 in the near future.