Turkey continues preparations for activating Russian-made S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar announced on Thursday.
“We continue checking and preparing the [S-400] systems in accordance with our plans,” the Anadolu news agency quoted him as saying.
‘We will use S-400s the way some NATO members are using S-300s,” the Turkish defense minister said.
Turkey’s proposal to set up a technical taskforce with the United States to study the compatibility of S-400s and US F-35 fifth-generation fighters remains in force, Akar said.
Meanwhile, US Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Clarke Cooper said in early November the possibility that the United States would impose sanctions against Turkey over the purchase of Russian-made S-400 surface-to-air missile systems still remained.
Russia announced in September 2017 that it had signed a $2.5 billion deal with Turkey on the delivery of S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems to Ankara. Under the contract, Ankara received a regiment set of S-400 air defense missile systems (two battalions). The deal also envisages partial transfer of production technology to the Turkish side.
Turkey is the first NATO member state to purchase such air defense missile systems from Russia. The deliveries of S-400 launchers to Turkey began on July 12, 2019.
Turkey’s decision to acquire the Russian-made S-400 surface-to-air missile systems has caused a sharply negative reaction from the United States and NATO as a whole. The United States is not abandoning its attempts to make Turkey give up the Russian air defense systems.
As Turkey has not yielded to the pressure and has said that it will not give up the S-400 systems, Washington has excluded Ankara from the US program of developing the fifth-generation F-35 fighter-bomber.
The United States is also threatening Turkey with unilateral sanctions over the purchase of S-400 air defense systems but is in no hurry to take these steps out of fear of further worsening relations with a major NATO ally while Ankara has warned it will not leave the imposition of these restrictions unanswered.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier said Ankara was not going to give up the S-400s despite the US pressure. He also rejected the threats of sanctions and suggested the United States should finally stop threatening Turkey and try to impose them in reality.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s Defense Ministry again suggested that Ankara and Washington should discuss possible technical measures with regard to the S-400s to settle bilateral contradictions.