Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that Washington’s demand that Turkey ditch the S-400 air defence systems, which Ankara has procured from Russia, is “not right”, Turkish NTV reported. The president pointed out that the US had no such objections when Greece, also a member of NATO, obtained Russian S-300 air defences in 1997.
Erdogan also reaffirmed the country’s readiness to buy Patriot systems from the US on favourable terms, but dismissed the possibility of any acquisition conditioned on discarding the S-400s, saying that such terms would constitute meddling in Turkey’s sovereignty.
At the same time, Erdogan shared that he has seen a more positive and constructive approach to the issue of Turkey wanting to acquire both S-400s and US-made F-35 jets. Earlier, Washington warned that Ankara can’t have both, claiming that the Russian air defence system could potentially reveal secrets and weaknesses of the F-35 to Moscow. Turkey has dismissed the chance of this happening.
The Turkish president further opined that instead of threatening each other with sanctions over Ankara’s decision to buy some weapons from Russia, the US and Turkey should sort out their differences via dialogue.
Resolving the S-400 Impasse
Following a meeting between US President Donald Trump and his Turkish counterpart, POTUS announced that the two countries’ national security teams would soon start discussing ways to resolve their issues regarding the S-400 air defence systems – a step that Ankara has long suggested.
Previously, Washington ignored Turkey’s calls to assemble a working group that could address the US concerns regarding the use of S-400s by Turkey. Instead, the US has insisted that Ankara needs to ditch the Russian air defences or at least keep them inactive, threatening to halt the deliveries of previously ordered F-35s to the country. American officials have claimed that the Russian air defences pose a threat to the F-35 jets and are not interoperable with other NATO systems.
The US implemented the measure this summer after Turkey started receiving its first S-400s and repeatedly rejected Washington’s demands to discard them. Ankara condemned the US actions and said that it wouldn’t change its course, insisting that the acquisition of the S-400s is a matter of national security for it.