Turkey and Russia have signed an accord for Moscow to supply Ankara with S-400 surface-to-air missile defense systems, finalizing a deal that the two countries had been working on for more than a year.
Turkey’s English-language Hurriyet Daily News newspaper reported that the loan deal for four S-400 surface-to-air missile batteries was signed in the Turkish capital Ankara on Friday.
Earlier on Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country borrow in the Russian ruble in a loan deal under the accord.
“We will not borrow in dollars in this loan, we will borrow in roubles,” Erdogan told reporters upon return from a trip to Africa.
The developments came only two days after Sergey Viktorovich Chemezov, the Chief Executive Officer of Russian state corporation Rostec, told the Kommersant daily newspaper that Russia would supply Turkey with four batteries of S-400, worth $2.5 billion each, and Moscow was expected to begin the first deliveries in March 2020.
Chemezov added that Turkey would pay 45 percent of the cost of the agreement up front, while Russia would provide loans to cover the remaining 55 percent.
A Russian banking source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Russian Finance Ministry will finance a deal from the state treasury, emphasizing that Russian banks will take part solely in the transfer of funds.
The deal has drawn concerns in the West, because Turkey is a member of the US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and the Russian-built S-400 surface-to-air missile systems are not compatible with those of the military alliance.
The S-400, whose full name is the Triumf 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.
Before gravitating towards Russia, the Turkish military reportedly walked out of a $3.4 billion contract for a similar Chinese system. The withdrawal took place under purported pressure from Washington.
Ankara’s ties with its Western allies in NATO have been strained over a range of issues.
The Turkish leader has been critical of Washington for supporting Kurdish groups in Syria that he says are responsible for terror attacks inside Turkey. The Turkish president has also slammed American officials for rejecting his requests to hand over Fethullah Gulen, a powerful opposition figure living in the US.