U.S. in New Missile Push as Turkey Hints at More S-400 Purchases

(Bloomberg) -- Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the delivery of a Russian missile-defense system scheduled for July could be advanced due to “provocations from the U.S.,” even as his foreign minister said Washington had come forward with new proposals on selling its Patriot alternative.

Erdogan has rebuffed calls from the U.S. to drop the controversial purchase of the Russian S-400 missiles, and after meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Monday said that the deal was “done.”

Turkey “is being constantly provoked by the U.S.” with its warnings to back off the deal, Erdogan said on his way back to Ankara, according to the Hurriyet newspaper.

The U.S. has threatened to expel Ankara from its F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet program and impose other sanctions if the delivery is completed. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence warned last week that Turkey must choose between being a critical player in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization “or risk the security of that partnership by making reckless decisions.”

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told NTV television on Wednesday that the U.S. had “relayed its latest proposal last week and it is more rational compared to the previous one.” He didn’t elaborate on the details. “If the U.S. won’t sell the Patriot, then we may buy even a second S-400 or another air defense system.”

Washington warned Turkey could face potential sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, CAATSA, the legislation that allows the punishment of entities doing business with parts of the Russian state.

Turkey’s decision on the S-400s can’t be subject to sanctions because the deal “precedes the CAATSA,” Cavusoglu said. “Turkey is not without alternatives to the F-35s, there are Su-35s and Su-57s,” he said, referring to Russian Sukhoi jets.

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