Turkey has already bought the Russian S-400 missile defense systems, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on June 12, stressing that it is a done deal.
“I'm not saying Turkey will buy S-400 missile defense systems, it has already bought them; we've closed the deal,” Erdogan told his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) group meeting in the capital Ankara.
He noted that Ankara and Moscow had signed the deal with a pledge for a reasonable price and future joint production. “This [S-400] system will be delivered to our country next month,” Erdogan added.
Touching on Turkey's procurement of F-35 fighter jets from the U.S., Erdogan said his country is not only a customer, but also co-producer of the jets. Ankara had paid $1 billion 250 million for the F-35 jets until today, the president underlined.
Tensions between the U.S. And Turkey have reached a fever pitch in recent months with Turkey set to begin receiving the advanced S-400 Russian surface-to-air missile defense system which Washington said will jeopardize Turkey's role in the U.S. F-35 fighter jet program and could trigger congressional sanctions.
Following protracted efforts to purchase an air defense system from the U.S. with no success, Ankara decided in 2017 to purchase the Russian S-400 system.
Live firing Russian S-400 Air Defense Missile System
U.S. officials advised Turkey to buy the U.S. Patriot missile system rather than the S-400s from Moscow, arguing the Russian system would be incompatible with NATO systems and expose the F-35 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.
Çavusoglu echoes President Erdogan on S-400s
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu echoed Erdogan’s statement on the S-400s at a press conference with French Foreign Minister Jean Yves Le Drain on June 13.
“We reject the wording the letter [by acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan] to our defense minister. Nobody can give an ultimatum to Turkey,” Çavusoglu said. Turkey is a free and sovereign state and fulfills all of its commitments to NATO and other international organizations, he stressed.
Turkey has proposed the formation of a two-way technical committee to study whether the deployment of the S-400s on Turkish soil together with the F-35 aircraft would endanger the safety of the latter but is yet to be responded to, the minister said.
“President [Donald] Trump says ‘Yes,’ but other institutions [within the administration] say ‘No.’ These kinds of letters will not make Turkey back down from its decisions. Turkey has purchased the S-400s and they will be deployed. Works to this end continue,” Çavusoglu said.
'No change in Russian S-400 position'
Meanwhile, Russia's stance on Turkey's purchase of its S-400 missile defense system has not changed, the country's ambassador to Turkey said on June 12.
Aleksei Yerkhov made the remarks at a reception in Ankara to mark Russian National Day.
Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Önal along with several foreign diplomats attended the event at the Russian Embassy.
"There is no change and will be no change in the stance and position of the Russian Federation related to the S-400 [missile system]," Yerkhov told reporters.