Trump did not joke: the United States punished Erdogan for S-400
The United States suspended Turkish pilots from training on F-35 fighter jets and demanded that they close the S-400 deal by the end of July. What measures will Donald Trump use if Turkey refuses to fulfill his demands, and does Recep Tayyip Erdogan have a “plan B”?
Two whip blows
So, on June 7 and. about. Pentagon chiefs Patrick Shanahan wrote a four-point letter to the Turkish Ministry of Defense.
If Turkey continues to implement the purchase of C-400, then:
The United States will exclude it from the program for the development of fifth-generation fighter F-35.
Turkey will not receive delivery of four prepaid F-35s.
From the end of July, Turkish pilots will be excluded from training on these fighters.
By July 31, all Turkish personnel involved in the production of the F-35 must leave the United States.
Washington’s second attack was yesterday’s statement by Pentagon press secretary Lieutenant Colonel Mike Andrews. He said that Turkish pilots at the US Air Force Base Luke in Arizona are no longer trained on the F-35.
The United States has warned Turkey since 2017 that it will impose sanctions if it does not break the deal with Russia signed in the same year. But Recep Tayyip Erdogan did not retreat. In a recent statement on June 4, he said that "there can be no question of taking a step back on the S-400 issue," and Turkey will execute the contract. Erdogan’s obstinacy forced the Donald Trump administration to move from threats to actions.
In late May, Erdogan offered the United States a compromise option - to create a joint working group on S-400. However, the United States is satisfied with only one compromise - a complete rejection of the Russian air defense system.
Why does Washington resist buying the S-400?
There are a number of reasons for this:
Representatives of the United States and NATO argue that Russian air defense systems are incompatible with NATO systems and standards that the Turkish armed forces operate on.
The Pentagon fears that Russian specialists will learn the secrets of the F-35 fighter jets bought from the United States that are training the Turks operating the S-400.
The US military-industrial complex intends to impose its Patriot systems on Turkey.
The S-400 deal will make Ankara more independent of Washington and bring it closer to the adversary of NATO, Moscow.
Time is running out
The transition from unofficial threats to official ones is justified by “deadlines”. The first batch of S-400 air defense systems will be delivered to Turkey in July this year. On May 22, Turkey sent military personnel to Russia to train the S-400 command and control system.
In late July, Trump and Erdogan are sent to the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan. If the Pentagon remains faithful to its ultimatum, then the rendezvous at the G20 is the last chance for the presidents to save the relationship. If they do not agree, the United States will have to impose sanctions.
“Blow to the Turkish economy”
There should be no doubt in Trump’s readiness for sanctions. In the summer, he had already resorted to this instrument and brought down the lyre for the sake of the release from Turkish prison of pastor Andrew Brunson, accused of Erdogan in collusion with the Gulenists.
Turkish politicians and ruling parties discuss how to avoid sanctions every day. In 1964, the United States sent the same threatening letter to Ankara, and then an economic crisis began in Turkey. Turkey is now experiencing serious economic problems. Two years ago, the dollar was worth 2.5 lira, and now - six. Unemployment rose to 13 percent - that's five million people. Most of them are young people.
The main danger of US sanctions is the possible accession of the EU countries to them.
Does Erdogan have a “plan B”?
Even if the EU does not join them, the US sanctions will still cause damage to the Turkish economy and will undermine Erdogan’s rating. Far from the next presidential elections, they will be held in 2023. However, external forces will use public discontent to overthrow the Turkish president.
The last such attempt in 2016 failed, and the new one would be more risky for the United States. Further pressure on Turkey may give a completely different result. Erdogan can convince the Turks that the main reason for their poverty is US attacks. The continuation of the crisis will force Ankara to look for an alternative - both military-political and economic. In the first case, you need to talk about Russia, in the second - about China.
With all the desire to punish rebellious Turkey for the United States, it is preferable to keep her in NATO than to lose influence on one of the main conductors of their interests in the Middle East.