President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey will proceed with purchasing the Russian S-400 missile defense systems, despite implacable opposition by Washington to Ankara’s acquisition of the advanced air defense units.
In an interview with CBS News, taped on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, and published on Saturday, the Turkish president confirmed his plans to purchase more S-400 systems.
Moscow and Ankara signed an agreement in 2017 to deliver the S-400 to Turkey, making it the first NATO member to purchase the air defense missile system from Russia.
The United States, which has imposed sanctions on Turkey’s defense industry over the missile purchase, had urged Ankara not to go ahead with the delivery of the missiles.
Erdogan, however, told CBS News that “nobody will be able to interfere in terms of what kind of defense systems we acquire, from which country, at what level.”
The Turkish leader also said he had “explained everything to President [Joe] Biden” that Washington’s refusal to sell Turkey the Patriot system as an alternative had led Ankara to purchase the Russian system instead.
“We made a decision to buy F-35 planes and we paid $1.4 billion,” Erdogan said, adding that Ankara “still has not received the F-35.”
“Who will share the risks regarding out security?” he asked. “How are we supposed to take necessary measures amid the security risks? Should we expect shipments of defense systems from countries that refuse to provide them to us?”
Ankara had formerly purchased America’s F-35 jets, but in retaliation for Turkey’s S-400 purchase, the administration of former US President Donald Trump halted its delivery of the jets.
Washington says the Russian S-400 system is a danger if activated in the same country that flies F-35 jets.
It claims the S-400 would collect detailed information about the F-35s, possibly erasing their stealth advantages.
The United States and Russia have long been at loggerheads over Ankara’s purchase of the missile system.