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Turkey says no going back on S-400 deal with Russia

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This undated file photo shows a Russian S-400 missile system. (By AFP)

Turkey says it will not turn back on a deal to purchase advanced S-400 air defense missile system from Russia despite opposition from the United States.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar made the comment in a news conference in the capital, Ankara, on Thursday and added that Turkey was in talks with Russia on obtaining a second consignment of the S-400 defense systems.

Akar said annulling the contract would be “very problematic,” but he expressed hope that the dispute with the US on the issue could be resolved through dialog.

“It is a very problematic situation to turn back from the point we have come to. We invite the United States to distance themselves from threatening language such as sanctions,” the Turkish defense minister told journalists in Ankara.

“We want the solution of problems through dialog. If the US side wants a solution, a solution could be found with work on the technical level,” he underlined.

Washington slapped sanctions on Turkey last month following its acquisition of the first batch of the S-400 systems.

Back in April 2018, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, said in Ankara that they had agreed to expedite the delivery of the S-400 systems. At the time, it was said that the delivery could be made between late 2019 and early 2020.

A number of NATO member states, spearheaded by the US, have criticized Turkey for its purchase of the S-400, arguing that the missile batteries are not compatible with those of the military alliance.

Washington says the Russian missile systems pose a threat to its F-35 fighter jets and to NATO’s broader defense systems.

Ankara has rejected the accusations and says the S-400s will not be integrated into the US-led military alliance.

The S-400 is an advanced Russian missile defense 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.

Ankara is striving to boost its air defense, particularly after Washington decided in 2015 to withdraw its Patriot surface-to-air missile system from the Turkish border with Syria, a move that weakened Turkey’s air defense.

Before gravitating toward 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.

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