Turkey pursues its own interest in purchasing Russian missile defence system S-400, Vice President Fuat Oktay told the country’s state-run Anadolu news agency, only two days after the US State Department strongly warned Ankara against the purchase of the Russian air defence system.
State Department spokesman, Robert Palladino, said on March 5th that Washington might reconsider giving Turkey access to the advanced F-35 fighter jet program if it buys the Russian S-400 system.
“We've clearly warned Turkey that its potential acquisition of the S-400 will result in a reassessment of Turkey's participation in the F-35 program and risk other potential future arm transfers to Turkey,” Palladino said.
Oktay, for his part, stated that Turkey will not renege on buying the Russian S-400.
“In any case [about purchasing of S-400 defence system from Russia], we would do what it requires, especially if we signed a deal,” he said, adding that Turkey does not adopt an obstinate stance on it.
On March 6th, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Ankara finalised an agreement on purchasing Russia’s S-400 missile defence system.
“We concluded the S-400 issue, signed a deal with the Russians, and will start co-production,” said Erdogan, speaking in a televised interview.
“Later, we may work with S-500s,” the next generation system, he said provocatively.
US officials suggested that Turkey should buy US Patriot missiles rather than the Russian system, arguing the S-400 is incompatible with NATO systems. However, Turkish officials said that Turkey would not go back on its agreement with Russia, even if it were to also buy Patriots.
On concerns over Turkey's acquisition of the Russian system allowing it access to classified NATO technologies, the head of US European Command General Curtis Scaparrotti said, “It presents a problem to all of our aircraft, but specifically the F-35”.