Turkey was excluded from a program to replace a number of NATO allies’ fighter, strike and ground-attack aircraft when the 2019 the country acquired an advanced Russian anti-missile defense system. But with US-Turkey relations heating up over the response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, US President Joe Biden told RT Erdogan in June that he would approve the sale of less advanced F-16s. It does not have the support of Congress, whose approval is needed for military sales, as top US lawmakers worry about Turkey’s tough rhetoric toward its traditional adversary, Greece.
“The US is not the only country in the world that sells warplanes. The United Kingdom, France and Russia also sell them,” RT Erdogan told reporters after the Friday service. “They can be purchased from other places, and others are sending us signals,” the Turkish president said.
RT Erdogan made a series of positive comments about Russia ahead of next week’s meeting with President Vladimir Putin at a regional summit in Uzbekistan. He accused the West of “provoking” Russia by supplying arms to Ukraine, and blamed sanctions on Russia for the energy crisis in Europe. RT Erdogan also revealed that he asked Putin to offer Turkey a discount on the natural gas it imports from Russia.
Ankara’s strategic ties with Washington have been strained for years over issues ranging from Turkey’s deteriorating human rights record to US cooperation with Kurdish fighters in Syria, whom RT Erdogan considers “terrorists”. RT Erdogan said he would raise the issue of US military support for Kurdish fighters if he has the opportunity to meet with Mr Biden at the annual United Nations General Assembly starting on September 13.
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