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Donald Trump pulls F-35 sale from Turkey after Russian missile defense purchase

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July 16 (UPI) — President Donald Trump on Tuesday said the United States will not sell Turkey any F-35 jets after the Middle Eastern country purchased a Russian missile defense system.

Speaking to reporters during a Cabinet meeting, Trump made good on his administration’s threat not to sell the F-35 Lightning II jets to Turkey.

“It’s a very tough situation that they’re in. And it’s a very tough situation that we’ve been placed in the United States,” he said. “And we are now telling Turkey … we’re not going to sell you the F-35 fighter jets.”

The decision came after Turkey decided to take delivery of nine S-400 Triumph surface-to-air missile defense systems from Russia last week. The system is designed to destroy aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles, including medium-range ones. The S-400 system can hit targets at a distance of around 250 miles and at an altitude up to around 22 miles.

Ankara signed a $2.5 billion deal with the Russian government in April 2017 to the dissatisfaction of the United States, which had warned of repercussions if the deal went through.

The United States also threatened to impose sanctions against Turkey in reaction to the deal. Trump didn’t comment on potential sanctions during the Tuesday Cabinet meeting.

Also Tuesday, acting Defense Secretary Mike Esper told the Senate Committee on Armed Forces that Turkey’s decision to purchase the missile defense systems “is the wrong one and it’s disappointing.”

He said he told Turkish officials “you can either have the S-400 or the F-35, you cannot have both.”

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