ANKARA – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he could close Incirlik and Kurecik’s bases to the US military if the US imposes sanctions on the country.
The Incirlik air base in the southern Turkish province of Adana is used by the US Air Force. The US military also operates a missile strike early warning radar station, which is located at Kurecik base in the province of Malatya (southeastern Turkey) and is part of NATO’s ballistic missile defense system in Europe.
“If we need to take this step, of course we have the authority… If it is necessary, together with our delegations, we will close Incirlik,” Erdogan said in a broadcast to A Haber.
Turkey can also close Kurecik’s radar base if necessary, added the Turkish leader. “If they are threatening us with the enforcement of these sanctions, of course we will retaliate.”
A Pentagon spokesman responded to the statement, saying Washington is making efforts to maintain relations with Ankara.
“We see the status of our forces in Turkey as a symbol of our decades-long commitment to work and help defend our NATO ally and Turkey’s strategic partner. The Secretariat is working to maintain this relationship while encouraging Turkey to pursue a more constructive policy on the S-400, Syria and other issues where there are differences,” said the spokesman.
In 2019, Russia entered into a contract to supply four divisions of S-400 anti-aircraft systems to Turkey worth $2.5 billion. The agreement also provides for an option for another set of these weapons.
The deliveries of the S-400 caused a crisis in Turkey’s relations with the US.
Washington demanded that the deal be abandoned and that Ankara buy the American Patriot complexes, threatening to delay or even cancel the sale of F-35 fighters to Ankara, as well as impose sanctions. Turkey has refused to make concessions.