Middle East

Turkey won’t go back on S-400 deal with Russia

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his country will not go back on its agreement to buy S-400 missile defense systems from Russia, despite pressures from the United States.

“It’s done,” Erdogan said in an interview with broadcaster Kanal 24 on Wednesday, stressing that “there can never be a turning back. This would not be ethical, it would be immoral. Nobody should ask us to lick up what we spat.”

He also noted that Ankara is still open to buying Patriot systems from the US but only if the conditions are suitable and added that his country may seek a deal to procure S-500 systems from Moscow later.

The US State Department announced on Tuesday that Washington has made clear to Turkey that Ankara’s participation in the F-35 fighter program would be reassessed if it proceeded with the purchase of Russian air defense systems.

Moscow and Ankara finalized an agreement on the delivery of the S-400 missile systems in December 2017. Last year in April, Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin announced that they had agreed to expedite the delivery of S-400 missile systems. At the time it was said that the delivery could be made between late 2019 and early 2020.

The deal has drawn concerns among some of Turkey’s NATO allies, particularly the US, who claim the missile batteries are not compatible with those of the military alliance.

The S-400 system, whose full name is the Triumph Mobile Multiple Anti-Aircraft Missile System (AAMS), is an advanced Russian missile system designed to detect, track, and destroy planes, drones, or missiles as far as 402 kilometers away. It has previously been sold only to China and India.

Turkey is striving to boost its air defense, particularly after Washington decided in 2015 to withdraw its Patriot surface-to-air missile system from Turkey’s border with Syria, a move that weakened Turkey’s air defense.

Nevertheless, the US State Department in December last year approved a possible $3.5 billion sale of Patriot missile systems to Turkey, after notifying Congress of the certification.

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