Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, April 8, 2019. /Reuters Photo
Turkey has already purchased S-400 defense systems from Russia and hopes they will be delivered in July, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday, an announcement likely to ratchet up tensions with NATO ally Washington.
Turkey and the United States have sparred publicly for months over Ankara’s order for the S-400s, which are not compatible with NATO’s systems.
“Turkey has already bought S-400 defense systems. It is a done deal. I hope these systems will be delivered to our country next month,” Erdogan said.
U.S. Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan outlined last week how Turkey would be pulled out of the F-35 fighter jet program unless Ankara changed course from its plans to purchase the S-400 missile defense system.
Turkey has criticized the letter from Washington and said it did not live up to the spirit of the NATO alliance. It is working on a response to be sent in the coming days, according to Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar.
The United States says Turkey’s acquisition of the Russian system poses a threat to Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-35 stealth fighters, and has warned of potential U.S. sanctions if Ankara presses on with the deal.
U.S. President Donald Trump (R) extends his hand for a handshake with President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the White House in Washington, DC, U.S., May 16, 2017. /VCG Photo
He noted that Turkey was also a manufacturing partner in the program.
Turkey has repeatedly proposed a joint working group to assess the impact of the S-400 surface-to-air defense systems, but Washington has not yet taken up the suggestion.
Erdogan also said he would discuss the matter with his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump in the G20 summit in Japan late this month.
“I will meet with President Donald Trump in Japan at the end of the month. I hope there will be a mutual discussion of these issues,” Erdogan said, adding that he would like to talk about the issue by phone with the U.S. ahead of two leaders’ meeting.
(Cover: A view shows a new S-400 “Triumph” surface-to-air missile system after its deployment at a military base outside the town of Gvardeysk near Kaliningrad, Russia, March 11, 2019. /Reuters Photo)