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US rules out F-35 jets to Turkey as it buys S-400 from Russia

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The F-35 fighter jets. A file photo

WASHINGTON (PTI): Turkey's decision to purchase Russian S-400 air defence systems renders its continued involvement with the F-35 fighter jets impossible, the White House said Wednesday, in a move that could have implications on defence ties between India and the US.

The White House announcement came a day after President Donald Trump announced that the US would not sell the F-35 fighter jets to Turkey after Ankara purchased the S-400 missile defence system from sanctions-hit Russia.

Turkey, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), received the first batch of the Russian missile defence system last Friday despite repeated warnings from the US against the purchase.

"Unfortunately, Turkey's decision to purchase Russian S-400 air defence systems renders its continued involvement with the F-35 impossible. The F-35 cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced capabilities," White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.

The US has been actively working with Turkey to provide air defence solutions to meet its legitimate air defence needs, and this administration has made multiple offers to move Turkey to the front of the line to receive the US PATRIOT air defence system, she said.

"Turkey has been a longstanding and trusted partner and NATO Ally for over 65 years, but accepting the S-400 undermines the commitments all NATO Allies made to each other to move away from Russian systems," Grisham said.

This will have detrimental impacts on Turkish interoperability with the Alliance, she warned.

"The US still greatly values our strategic relationship with Turkey. As NATO Allies, our relationship is multi-layered, and not solely focused on the F-35," Grisham said.

"Our military-to-military relationship is strong, and we will continue to cooperate with Turkey extensively, mindful of constraints due to the presence of the S-400 system in Turkey," Grisham said.

A day earlier, Trump informed his Cabinet colleagues that the US would not sell F-35 fighter jets to Turkey after Ankara purchased the S-400 missile defence system from sanctions-hit Russia.

The decision by the Trump Administration against a major NATO ally could be an indication of the things to come for India as it has also signed up with Russia to buy the S-400 missile defence system against the advice of the US.

India inked an agreement with Russia in October last year to procure a batch of the S-400 missile systems at a cost of Rs. 40,000 crore.

The issue was raised by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo when he met his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar in New Delhi last month and asked India not to purchase S-400 from Russia.

Jaishankar at a joint news conference told reporters that India will take a decision in its best national interest.

As per the current US laws, any country purchasing a major defence equipment from Russia could be subject to American sanctions.

The US Congress has made amendments in the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) for a presidential waiver.

Many in India believe that this presidential waiver was for India. However, the US officials were quick to warn that there was no blanket sanction waiver for any country.

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