Turkey dismisses US warning over S-400 Russian missile purchase
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said his country will move ahead with the purchase of Russian S-400 air-defence missiles, dismissing US threats to cancel the sale of high-tech F-35 jets to Turkey.
In an interview with Kanal 24 television late Wednesday, Erdogan also said Turkey could consider purchasing the more advanced Russian S-500 system in the future.
"The S-400 is a done deal, there can be no turning back. We have reached an agreement with the Russians," Erdogan said.
"We will move toward a joint production. Perhaps after the S-400, we will go for the S-500."
Top US military commander for Europe, General Curtis Scaparrotti, told US Congress this week that NATO member Turkey should reconsider its plan to buy the S-400 from Russia or forfeit other future American military aircraft and systems.
It was the latest in a series of warnings the US has made to Turkey over its plans to buy the S-400. The issue has aggravated already souring relations with Ankara, including tensions over the war in Syria.
US and NATO officials have repeatedly complained that the Russian S-400 could not be integrated into the NATO defence system. They have warned Ankara that Turkey risked both jeopardising its purchase of Lockheed Martin F-35 jets from the US and having sanctions imposed.
Some have said the US is concerned that the S-400 poses security risks to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter project.
The US agreed to sell 100 of its F-35 fighters to Turkey in December and has so far delivered two of the aircraft. Deliveries were halted last year by Congress.
Erdogan said Turkey could still purchase the Patriot missile defence system "if the conditions are suitable, the prices are suitable (and) if we can conduct a joint production". Turkey's plan to buy the S-400 from Russia may make this difficult.
Russia has utilised the S-400 system in its military operations in Syria. The missile system first made its way to the Hmeimim Air Base in Lattakia after the Turkish military downed a Russian jet which it claimed entered Turkish airspace in 2015.
The countries have since become increasingly cooperative over Syria, where both are entangled in ongoing military operations and political negotiations to end the war.
The first S-400 system will be delivered to Turkey in July, Erdogan added.
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