Turkish Prime Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday that US President Donald Trump is unwilling to slap sanctions on Ankara over its S-400 deal with Russia.
He pledged that Ankara will retaliate if the sanctions are imposed, including those which target Turkey’s Incirlik airbase.
“If the United States slaps sanctions, we will respond in kind. A [relevant] step can also be taken with regard to the Incirlik airbase. This is a natural position under these circumstances, not a threat and blackmail”, Cavusoglu told the Turkish news TV channel TGRT Haber.
Cavusoglu added that the S-400 air defenses will be put on service in Turkey at the beginning of 2020.
Separately, he pointed out that Turkey’s partners in the F-35 program are concerned over Washington’s decision to suspend Ankara.
He made it clear that Turkey will “meet its needs elsewhere” if the US does not supply the F-35 fighter jets to Ankara.
The statement comes after the White House said in a press release that Turkey’s move to buy Russian S-400 air defense systems “renders its continued involvement with the F-35[project] impossible”.