The deputy chairman of Turkey's governing AK Party, Numan Kurtulmus, has played down concerns that the US will introduce sanctions due to the purchase of S-400 air defence systems. He suggested that Democrat Joe Biden, who is currently the projected winner in the presidential race, might be more mindful of US interests in the Middle East and thus will not impose sanctions on one of its regional partners - Ankara.
"The US President will most likely watch the balance in the Middle East very carefully for US interests, and will not want to continue the tense ties with Turkey […] I believe they will take positive steps in the future", Kurtulmus said.
The deputy party chairman noted, however, that regardless of Washington's future steps in regards to S-400 sanctions, Ankara does not intend to sell them or leave them unused. He noted that it's Turkey's sovereign right to defend itself and that it will not bow to the demands of a foreign country to give up the defence systems that it bought from Russia.
Washington Threatens Turkey With Consequences Over S-400 Purchase
Kurtulmus' statement comes as the final results of the US presidential race remain in question amid President Donald Trump's ongoing efforts to dispute them in court over alleged fraud and violations. At the moment, Democrat Joe Biden is leading in the election with a projected 306 Electoral College votes. His team, which has already declared the Democrat the winner, has announced his intention to "restore" US relations with its foreign allies, but never mentioned the matter of US-Turkish tensions in recent years.
One of the main sources of these tensions was Ankara's decision in December 2017 to buy S-400 systems from Russia, after its request to purchase American Patriots went unanswered for years. Washington claims the Russian air defence system is incompatible with NATO's defence grid, despite having no objections in the past to Greece's acquisition of S-300 systems.
In addition, the US claims that the S-400s could reveal secrets of the F-35 jets to Moscow – an allegation denied by both Turkey and Russia. Regardless, the White House unilaterally decided to stop delivering the F-35s that Turkey had ordered and threatened to impose economic sanctions against the country for its purchase of the Russian military equipment. Washington vowed not to impose sanctions if Ankara does not use the newly-acquired cutting-edge defence system, but President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has strongly dismissed such a scenario.