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U.S. Vice President Warns Turkey, Germany Over Dealings With Russia

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (file photo)

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has warned Turkey and Germany about their dealings with Russia, telling Ankara it is "reckless" and warning Berlin it risks becoming a "captive" of Moscow.

Pence's comments came on April 3 in Washington as part of events marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of NATO, of which Turkey and Germany are long-standing members.

Pence voiced U.S. opposition to Turkey's purchase of a Russian air-defense system, saying Ankara must decide between remaining a key NATO partner or risk endangering the military alliance with the deal, which he said "poses great danger to NATO."

"Turkey must choose. Does it want to remain a critical partner in the most successful military alliance in history or does it want to risk the security of that partnership by making such reckless decisions that undermine our alliance?" Pence said.

The United States and other NATO countries have demanded that Ankara call of its deal with Russia to purchase the S-400, which is not compatible with NATO systems and is considered a threat to U.S. F-35 fighters.

Washington has said it is halting deliveries to Turkey related to the F-35 program in response to Ankara's purchase of the Russian missile system.

A senior State Department also said this week in a briefing that Ankara could face U.S. sanctions if it goes ahead with the S-400 deal.

Ankara has refused to back down on its planned purchase, with Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu telling the NATO gathering that "the S-400 deal is a done deal and we will not step back from this."

Another Turkish leader, Vice President Fuat Oktay, lashed back at Pence's remarks -- saying it was Washington that must decide whether it wants to remain an ally of Ankara.

"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 its enemies?" Oktay wrote on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Pence told Germany it risked being a "captive of Russia" if it proceeds with the Nord Stream 2 project with Moscow.

"If Germany persists in building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, as President Trump said, it could turn Germany's economy into literally a captive of Russia," Pence said.

Nord Stream 2, scheduled to be completed in 2019, will run directly from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea, bypassing several European transit countries including Ukraine, helping Moscow avoid the transit-fee disputes and other nettlesome politics that have plagued its existing pipeline network.

Washington and some European leaders fear that without legal changes, the pipeline will deepen the continent's dependence on Russian gas and give Moscow more negotiating leverage over unrelated political issues.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and dpa