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President Donald Trump made a series of contradict­ory remarks July 18 on whether or not the U.S. will be imposing sanctions on Turkey over its purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense system.

Trump initially said the sanctions are not under considerat­ion “right now,” before telling reporters “we’re looking at it.”

The president said the situation is “very very difficult,” continuing to blame his predecesso­r, former President Barack Obama, for the row.

“The previous administra­tion made some very big mistakes with regard to Turkey and it was too bad,” Trump said in the Oval Office while hosting Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. “So we’re looking at it, we’ll see what we do. We haven’t announced that yet.”

The Trump administra­tion began July 17 the process of removing Turkey from the F-35 fighter program over its acquisitio­n of the S-400 in a major rift with a key NATO ally. The expulsion is slated to be completed by the end of March 2020.

Turkish Presidenti­al Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin expressed “discomfort” over the decision earlier on July 18 during a telephone call with National Security Advisor John Bolton.

Kalin said the suspension is not compatible with previous statements from Trump and Turkish President Recep

Tayyip Erdogan, according to a statement from the Turkish presidenti­al office.

The delivery of S-400 components began last week and is ongoing, with 15 shipments of related equipment so far having landed in Turkey over the last seven days.

Russia ‘ready’ to deliver Su-35s

In the wake of the U.S. cutting Turkey out of the F-35 program, Russia is ready to deliver Su-35 fighter jets to Turkey, the head of Russian arms giant Rostec said on July 18.

“If our Turkish colleagues show a willingnes­s, we are ready to work on supplying Su-35s,” Sergey Chemezov told reporters in Moscow.

Following protracted efforts to purchase an air defense system from the U.S. with no success, Ankara signed a contract in 2017 to purchase the S-400s from Russia.

U.S. officials urged Turkey to buy U.S. Patriot missiles, arguing the Russian system would be incompatib­le with NATO systems and expose the F-35s to possible Russian subterfuge.

Turkey, however, emphasized the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO systems and would not pose a threat to the alliance.

Deliveries of the S-400s are set to continue through April 2020.

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