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Turkey Contests U.S. Deadline On Russian Weapons Deal

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Turkey is contesting U.S. reported imposition on it through a deadline for the annulment of its weapons deal with Russia.

Turkish state news agency, Anadolu, reported on Tuesday following a briefing by Defence Minister, Hulusi Akar, who said deadline should not be imposed on Turkey.

U.S. media reported earlier that Turkey had until the end of the first week of June to cancel its purchase of Russian-made S-400 missile defence system in favour of U.S.-made Patriot system or risk being sanctioned.

The U.S. also threatened Turkey with removal from a joint project to build F-35 fighter jets.

Sanction threats were made by, among others, prominent U.S. senators.

Washington fears that Russia could use the S-400 system to access data on the capabilities of the F-35 stealth fighter jet.

Turkey is a partner of the U.S. in the manufacture of the F-35 and is itself to receive jets.

Turkey said on Monday that the S-400 deal with Russia had been sealed.

Akar said that training of Turkish experts on the S-400 had begun, with first deliveries of the system expected in July.

The S-400 affair leaves Turkey in a quandary.

Cancellation of the deal could tarnish relations with Russia, with whom it is on good terms due to its involvement in northern Syria.

Yet, its perilous economic situation means it cannot risk further U.S. sanctions.

In 2018, U.S. sanctions in response to the detention in Turkey of a U.S. pastor, badly hit the Turkish lira.

The Turkish government can ill afford another fiscal blow before the imminent mayoral election in Istanbul, where President Recep Erdogan has lost much support due to Turkey’s faltering economy.

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