Erdogan: Turkey intends to buy S-400 from Russia

Turkish President says Turkey still intends to buy second batch of S-400 missile defense systems from Russia, which could deepen rift with the US.

Elad Benari ,

Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Reuters

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday that Turkey still intended to buy a second batch of S-400 missile defense systems from Russia, a move that could deepen the country’s rift with the US, Reuters reports.

"In the future, nobody will be able to interfere in terms of what kind of defense systems we acquire, from which country at what level," Erdogan was quoted as having said in an interview that aired on CBS News' "Face the Nation".

"Nobody can interfere with that. We are the only ones to make such decisions," he added.

Washington says the S-400s pose a threat to its F-35 fighter jets and to NATO's broader defense systems. Turkey says it was unable to procure air defense systems from any NATO ally on satisfactory terms.

Relations between the US and Turkey soured after Turkey's purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system that the US believes can be used to spy on Western defenses.

In response to the purchase, the US sanctioned Turkey’s military procurement agency and expelled Turkey from the F-35 program, under which Western allies produce the next-generation fighter jet's parts and secure its early purchasing rights.

Turkey has repeatedly made clear it will use the Russian system despite US threats of sanctions.

Talks continued between Russia and Turkey about the delivery of a second batch, which Washington has repeatedly said would almost certainly trigger new sanctions.

"We urge Turkey at every level and opportunity not to retain the S-400 system and to refrain from purchasing any additional Russian military equipment," said a State Department spokesperson when asked about Erdogan's comments, according to Reuters.

"We continue to make clear to Turkey that any significant new Russian arms purchases would risk triggering CAATSA 231 sanctions separate from and in addition to those imposed in December 2020," the spokesperson added, referring to the 2017 Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.

The spokesperson also said the United States regards Turkey as an ally and friend and seeks ways to strengthen their partnership "even when we disagree."

Last week, Erdogan said he felt that relations with his US counterpart Joe Biden had "not gotten off to a good start" since the latter's arrival in the White House.

The already strained relations between the US and Turkey became more complicated when Biden, who has also made a point of highlighting Turkey's deteriorating record on human rights, took three full months after his swearing-in ceremony before placing his first call to Erdogan.

That phone call was to inform him that Washington was recognizing the Armenian genocide by the Ottoman Empire during World War I.

Erdogan denounced the move and urged Biden to swiftly reverse it, advising the United States to "look in the mirror".

In June, Erdogan and Biden held what the Turkish President described as a "fruitful and sincere" meeting on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Brussels.



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