The United States will impose sanctions on Turkey and freeze the delivery of American-made F-35 fighter jets if the country proceeds with the acquisition and deployment of the Russian S-400 missile defense system, US Senator Robert Menendez told Kathimerini’s executive editor Alexis Papachelas in an exclusive interview.
“There is no chance that they will have the F-35s. There will be sanctions under law that exists today. This is a purchase of a major piece of military equipment from Russia and that is a sanctionable activity for anyone in the world – including Turkey. And there is no way that we will have… an F-35 put next to an S-400 that could also really surveillance the very essence of the technology that we have in the F-35. So it is impossible to happen,” he said.
The Democratic senator noted that some of the strongest supporters of the F-35 deal and other US officials who believe that Turkey is still a major security partner in the region have made it “very clear” that this “simply cannot happen.”
Asked whether the US would consider moving American military bases from Turkey to Greece if relations between Washington and Ankara continue to deteriorate, Menendez said that although he did not believe this would happen, the US would do whatever it takes to protect national security – including moving its bases.
Concerning the Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act, a bill he introduced with Republican Senator Marco Rubio, Menendez said it showed the US Congress recognizes the importance of the countries involved (Greece, Cyprus and Israel).
He also welcomed the Prespes deal between Athens and Skopje, noting it will allow Greece to play an important role in the Balkans.