The US ponder their next diplomatic moves towards Turkey, as they share the concern of Athens about the aggression of its neighbor in Cyprus and the Aegean.
During his visit to Washington, Defense Secretary Evangelos Apostolakis shared his concerns with US officials about the escalation of Turkish provocation following the expedition of a drillship in the Cypriot EEZ, and especially the likelihood of their continuation in the Kastelorizo area and the Aegean.
In his meetings with Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan and with Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, Apostolakis called for the strengthening of the US military presence in the region to stabilize the situation by offering them access to all Greek bases as needed.
Apostolakis underlined the need to diplomatically prevent a further escalation that would bring Greece into an impasse, as it could not ignore a Turkish drilling in the Aegean. Questioned about Turkey's aggression in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean, Defense Secretary Shanahan said it is similar to Russia's Philippine naval incident against the US, although he stressed that he would not link the two. However, it gave a clear sign of American intentions, stressing that "dangerous and unprofessional acts” will not deter US operations.
The US attitude towards Turkey has also hardened on the S-400 missile issue. Shanahan has sent a letter to his Turkish counterpart, Hulusi Akar, describing the next steps the US will take if the Turks go ahead with the purchase of the S-400 missile system from Russia. In this letter, Shanahan said before meeting Apostolakis, he mentioned an “extremely attractive” US offer to Turkey to purchase its Patriot anti-aircraft system.
At the same time, however, the letter describes the steps taken to remove the Turkish pilots and staff trained in the F-35 fighters from the US until by the end of July, sending an ultimatum that the F-35 purchase cannot coexist with that of the S400 system.
Still, the Americans encourage the continuation of Greece's dialogue with Turkey on confidence-building measures. Shanahan also thanked Greece for its support for the US efforts to strengthen security in the Mediterranean region.