Cracks Appear on 70th Anniversary of NATO: Turkey Furious With US; Bucking the Alliance!
Washington hosted a meeting of NATO foreign ministers. This year, the alliance celebrates its 70th anniversary. But the summit wasn't festive at all. There were a lot of problems to solve. How are the members of the alliance sorting them out?
Here's the report by Alexander Khristenko, our US correspondent.
The unity of NATO can't stand against the Triumph. The Triumph is the name of the Russian anti-missile system that caused quite a quarrel between Washington and Ankara right at the celebration of the 70th anniversary. The allies exchanged a new series of blows. The guests of the celebrations witnessed the correspondence duel of the two vice-presidents. US Vice President Mike Pence expressed criticism both on Twitter and from the rostrum.
Mike Pence: «Turkey's purchase of a $2.5 billion S-400 anti-aircraft missile system from Russia poses a great danger to NATO and to the strength of this alliance. The fact that Turkey is moving ahead with these plans even after the United States has made available the Patriot air defense system is deeply troubling. Turkey must choose. Does it want to remain a critical partner in the most successful military alliance in the world's history? Or does it want to risk the security of that partnership by making reckless decisions that undermine our alliance?»
Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay made an immediate and appropriate response on Twitter.
Fuat Oktay: «The United States must choose. Does it want to remain Turkey's ally or risk our friendship by joining forces with terrorists to undermine its NATO ally's defense against enemies?»
Ankara's irritation with America's support for the Kurds grew even more after Washington and its NATO allies repeatedly refused to deliver air defense systems. Then, Turkey turned to Russia and concluded a contract without any artificial obstacles whatsoever. Thus, they ended up purchasing higher quality equipment at a better price. But the USA is now threatening Turkey, saying it will pay a higher price for that. The Pentagon froze all deliveries of America's new F-35 fighters to Ankara. The production of parts and other pieces of equipment is also under threat. Turkey manufactures parts of the fuselage, the landing gear, the wiring, and the panoramic display in the cockpit for this aircraft.
NATO traditionally tried to smooth over internal conflicts by exaggerating the presence of some external threat, although they spend hundreds of billions of dollars on weapons. Member countries account for about 60% of the world's military expenditures.
Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State: «Today, across the world, new challenges are confronting us: Russian aggression, mass migration, vulnerabilities inherent in new technologies, along with older, persistent ones, have created a geopolitical environment that is increasingly unstable and even more competitive».
In the days of NATO's 70th anniversary, Washington announced new economic sanctions against Russia. A bill has been submitted to Congress which calls for the blacklisting of Russia's major banks such as Sberbank, VTB, Gazprombank, Rosselkhozbank, and Vnesheconombank. Also, the sanctions imply a ban on all operations with Russian sovereign debt falling under the jurisdiction of the United States. Last year, senators proposed a similar bill, but it never reached the voting stage. Here's another try.
Alexander Khristenko, Nikolay Koskin, Vesti, Washington.