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Trump Balks At Cancellation Of F-35 Jet Sales To Turkey, Blames Obama

A Russian military cargo plane unloads elements of the S-400 missile-defense system at a military air base in Ankara on July 12.

U.S. President Donald Trump has deplored the inability of the United States to sell Turkey F-35 fighter jets because it has chosen to purchase a Russian air-defense system.

Speaking to journalists before a cabinet meeting on July 16, Trump didn't mention sanctions that are legally required to be enforced after Turkey started purchasing the Russian hardware.

Trump instead said it was "not fair" that Washington cancelled the sale of over 100 planes to Turkey while implying that his predecessor, Barack Obama, was to blame because the United States failed to sell it Patriot missiles instead.

The United States started the process of selling Turkey a Patriot missile system in 2013, but Washington never completed the deal after Turkey started to demand more technology-transfer specifications, CNN reported.

At his Senate confirmation hearing to become defense secretary, Army Secretary Mark Esper said that Turkey "cannot have both" the Russian and U.S. equipment, because the S-400 "fundamentally undermines the capabilities of the F-35."

Former State Department and national security official Andrew Weiss said that Trump's position "undercuts his own team."

Weiss, who is now vice president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said on Twitter that Trump essentially "apologizes to both [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin."

Trump also didn't address the issue of removing Turkey as a supplier of F-35 components for going through on the purchase of the S-400.

Erdogan said on July 15 that eight planes had already brought parts of the Russian system and more were coming.

"With God's permission, they will have been installed in their sites by April 2020," he told a crowd at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport.

With reporting by AP, CNN and Reuters
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