A Russian military official says Turkey would not cave in to pressure from the United States over advancing the purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense systems.
Dmitry Shugayev, the head of Russia’s Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation, expressed the belief on Friday, as Washington keeps warning Ankara to drop the purchase.
“They (the Americans) oppose supplies to any country in every possible way. In particular, they have problems with Turkey, we are all aware of it. Thanks God, our Turkish partners remain firm and understand that this is a matter of their national security. I believe we will move on,” he said.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said a day earlier that Turkey needed more air defense systems and was well within its rights to acquire them from various sources.
“Today, we produce 70% of our defense industry needs in our country. We also produce and export with high quality. But we still need to procure products that we can’t produce in our country one way or another,” Cavusoglu said.
“Turkey, as an independent country, will use this right in the future as well,” he stressed.
In January, Turkey expressed readiness to buy the second batch of the advanced Russian-made S-400 systems on the condition that technology is also transferred.
Turkey and Russia finalized an agreement on the delivery of the S-400 missile systems in late 2017.
The S-400 entered service with the Russian army in 2007 and is considered Russia’s most advanced long-range anti-aircraft missile system.
Capable of engaging targets at a distance of 400 kilometers and at an altitude of up to 30 kilometers, the missile system can destroy aircraft as well as cruise and ballistic missiles. It can also be used against land-based targets.
Turkey and the United States, both of them NATO members, have been at loggerheads over Ankara’s purchase of the Russian systems, which the US alleges are not compatible with the military hardware owned by the other countries of the Western military alliance.
Washington also alleges that the S-400 defense systems pose a threat to the American Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter jets, which were to be jointly produced in Turkey. That production was canceled by the White House over Ankara’s purchase of the Russian-made air defense system.
On December 14 last year, the United States imposed sanctions on Turkey over its acquisition of the S-400 systems. Ankara condemned the move as a “grave mistake” that would inevitably harm mutual relations and threatened retaliation.
The US sanctions were imposed on Turkey’s top defense procurement and development body, the Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB).
Ankara has stressed all along that it is determined to proceed with the S-400 deal despite the US opposition.
Turkey seeks 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 turning to 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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