The Washington Post - 29.08.2019

(Joyce) #1

A10 EZ RE THE WASHINGTON POST.THURSDAY, AUGUST 29 , 2019


BY AMIE FERRIS-ROTMAN


AND KAREEM FAHIM


moscow — Russia and NATO-
member Turkey are in talks over
the possibility of creating a new
fighter jet, Russian government
officials said Wednesday, a step
that could further challenge the
United States and Ankara’s stand-
ing in the Western military alli-
ance.
The move came as President
Vladimir Putin hosted his Turkish


counterpart, Recep Ta yyip Erdo-
gan, at a major Russian aviation
show on the outskirts of Moscow,
a meeting that served mostly as a
showcase for the two leaders’ bur-
geoning partnership.
The two sides held “technical
consultations” on the joint crea-
tion of a fighter jet and “initial
talks” on developing a Turkish
fighter aircraft, Russian media
cited officials from Russia’s Fed-
eral Service for Military-Techni-
cal Cooperation as saying. The

body reports directly to Putin.
The discussions, though tenta-
tive, are likely to raise further
alarms in Washington, which has
protested against Turkey’s recent
purchase of the S-400 Russian
missile defense system.
U.S. officials worry Russia
could use the S-400s in Turkey to
gather intelligence on the United
States’ F-35 fighter jet. In re-
sponse, the United States has
canceled Turkey’s p articipation in
the production and purchase of

the F-35 stealth aircraft.
Meanwhile, U.S. House Foreign
Affairs Committee members
urged President Trump on Tues-
day to level further sanctions on
Turkey for the purchase.
Turkey is already developing
its own stealth fighter, which
could be operational as early as
2025, Turkish officials have said.
In Moscow, Erdogan and Putin
also discussed cooperating in
“electronic warfare” at a moment
of heightened vigilance in the
West over Russian cyberattacks.
The optics suggested Turkish-
Russian relations were growing
warmer. In a video clip that went

viral, Putin bought himself and
Erdogan ice cream cones.
The pair then admired Russia’s
newest fighter jet, the Sukhoi
Su-57, which was unveiled at the
show, with Erdogan getting a
peak inside the cockpit. Erdogan
joked about purchasing the Su-
but stopped at that.
The Russian space agency Ros-
cosmos even offered to send a
Turkish astronaut to the Interna-
tional Space Station.
Behind the scenes, there was
no sign that the two countries had
resolved their disagreements
over the war in Syria.
Russia, the main military back-

er of Syrian President Bashar al-
Assad, has supported Syria’s
months-long offensive in the
country’s northern Idlib prov-
ince, along the border with Tur-
key.
The Syrian advance has killed
Turkish soldiers stationed as ob-
servers in Idlib and has sent hun-
dreds of thousands of displaced
Syrians toward the Turkish bor-
der, raising fears in Ankara of a
new influx of refugees.
Earlier this month, a Turkish
military convoy was bombed in
Idlib, in an attack that Turkey
partly blamed on Russia.
amie.ferris-rotman@washpost.com

Russia, Turkey mull fighter jet move

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