US Vice President Mike Pence has repeated warnings to Turkey not to proceed with the purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile defence system, despite Turkey’s president saying they have made a deal to buy the missiles.
According to Russian media network RT, Pence, speaking at the Munich Security Conference, told attendees “we will not stand idly by while NATO allies purchase weapons from our adversaries. We cannot ensure the defence of the West if our allies grow dependent on the East.”
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said later on Friday, February 15th, that he confirmed that Turkey will not walk away from the $2.5 billion arms deal with Russia, despite US and NATO caveats.
“We have made the S-400 deal with Russia. Therefore, a step back is out of question. This is over,” Turkish local daily, Hurriyet, cited Erdogan as saying.
“We are working for the deployment of S-400s in July as promised,” he stressed.
“Joint production, providing a loan and early delivery are criteria that we attach importance to. Although they are positive for early delivery, they can’t promise providing credit and joint production,” Erdogan said whilst addressing the bid to buy the US-made Patriot system.
The US had given Turkey, a fellow member of NATO, a deadline of buying the rival US weapons system, but the US said it will withdraw the offer if Turkey goes ahead with the weapons deal with Moscow.
The Turkish president’s statements follow a series of technical talks between Ankara and Washington over the latter’s sale of the $3.5 billion Patriot air defence systems. The US has long been urging Turkey to cancel the S-400 deal with Russia.
And the US has warned that the Russian system cannot be integrated into the air defences of NATO.