Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is threatening to deepen military ties with Moscow unless the United States lifts its embargo on the sale of a key fighter jet.
The warning comes ahead of next week's planned meeting between Erdogan and President Donald Trump.
Turkey is set to purchase the Su-35, Russia's latest fighter bomber. The country is already provoking alarm among its western allies with its procurement of Russia's S-400 missile system.
"When we bought the S-400, we did not ask anyone [for permission]. So, if we make a decision, we will purchase them [Su-35]," Erdogan said Tuesday.
Erdogan indicates a final decision on the Russian jet purchase could be in the hands of Washington. He called for Trump to unfreeze the sale of America's F-35 fighter jet to Turkey.
The U.S. embargo was imposed in retaliation of Ankara procuring the S-400, which Washington claims compromises NATO weapons systems, particularly the F-35's stealth technology.
"If the F-35 issue is not resolved, we will take the necessary steps," Erdogan said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted Erdogan at a Moscow air display in August where the Su-35 was on display.
In October, the Turkish Daily Sabah, which has close ties to the government, reported Ankara was close to buying 36 of the Russian fighter bombers.
The head of Russia's Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation, Dmitry Shugayev, confirmed last month that talks were underway for the delivery and possible co-production of both the Su-35 and the more advanced Su-57, which has not yet entered full production. Shugayev acknowledged that contracts have not been signed.
Turkey's increasing military purchases underscore Putin and Erdogan's developing relationship. But the purchase of the Su-35 is seen as taking Russian-Turkish ties to a new level, to the detriment of Ankara's NATO relationship.
Source : VOA