The US administration had asked Turkey to submit a written commitment that it would not activate the S-400 air defense system it purchased from Russia, which has strained relations between the two NATO allies, a pro-government columnist claimed on Tuesday.
In a column published in the Hürriyet newspaper, Hande Fırat, the CNN Türk bureau chief in Ankara, argued that the US administration had been planning to give this written commitment to the US Congress so that the sanctions against Turkey could be lifted.
Fırat noted that during a visit to Ankara ahead of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s upcoming meeting with US President Joe Biden, which will take place June 14 on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Brussels, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman told Hürriyet and CNN Türk that they had proposed an “alternative” to the Turkish government. This alternative was a written promise from the Turkish side that it would not activate the missile system, Fırat claimed.
“US military experts would determine whether the S-400s were activated or not. They wanted this inspection to be included in the commitment,” Fırat wrote.
Fırat maintained that the US proposal regarding the S-400s was declined by Turkey, saying it would violate their sovereign rights.
The issue of the S-400s is expected to be the top agenda item of the Biden-Erdoğan meeting during the NATO summit in Brussels.
Turkey’s purchase of the S-400s in 2017 triggered sanctions for violating the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which mandates penalties for transactions deemed harmful to US interests.
Along with Ankara’s other NATO partners, Washington argues that the S-400s pose a threat to its F-35 fighter jets and NATO’s broader defense systems. Turkey, however, rejects this and says the S-400s will not be integrated into NATO.
The White House removed Turkey from the F-35 joint strike fighter program in 2019 over concerns that the Turkish government’s decision to enter into a missile defense relationship with Moscow would compromise the security of the program’s sensitive cutting-edge technology.