US in talks to sell Patriot missiles to Turkey
Deal aims to quell controversy over Ankara’s purchase of Russian system; Turkey says it would buy S-400 anyway
Discussions are under way between the US government and Turkish officials about a potential deal to supply Ankara with Patriot surface-to-air missile systems, The Drive reported this week.
Such a deal could smooth over tensions that surfaced when Turkey agreed to buy a Russian S-400 missile system, a move that prompted US lawmakers to consider blocking the sale of F-35 fighter jets to the NATO ally. Congress has yet to pass legislation that would prevent F-35s from being sent to Turkey, and the first delivery was already received on US soil.
Tina Kaidanow, acting US assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, revealed at an airshow in London this week that the talks were ongoing. Leading a delegation at the event, Kaidanow has reportedly been tasked with promoting US arms sales abroad.
“[We’re] trying to give the Turks an understanding of what we can do with respect to Patriot,” Kaidanow was quoted by Reuters as saying. “Turkey has had an interest in Patriot, so we’ve been working for a while how we can make that work.
“Ultimately, we are concerned that by purchasing these [S-400] systems from the Russians it will be supportive of some of the least good behavior that we have seen from them [Russia] in various places including Europe but also elsewhere,” she said.
The Daily Sabbah reported on Monday, citing Turkish officials, that any deal to purchase the Patriot systems would not preclude buying the Russian systems, which Turkey does not view as an alternative to the US weapons. The comments contradict previous protestations from Ankara about Washington’s refusal to sell the Lockheed-made systems, which officials have cited as the reason for buying the S-400.