Turkey won’t backtrack on S-400 missiles issue, says Erdogan

Turkey won’t backtrack on Russian S-400 missile defence system, Erdogan says
2 min read
17 June, 2021
Erdogan was condemned by Washington for his purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defence system in 2017.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attended meetings with the US and French presidents [Halil Sagirkaya/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images]

Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his US counterpart Joe Biden that he will not backtrack on his acquisition of Russian S-400 air defences.

Erdogan and Biden met three days ago at the NATO summit in Brussels; part of the talks was on Turkey's purchase of the Russian-made missile system which the US argues goes against the military bloc's security.

"I told (Joe Biden), don't expect us, as Turkey, to take a different step on either the F-35 or S-400 issue because we did our part on the F-35s," state media reported Erdogan as telling journalists in the Azerbaijani capital Baku.

Though Erdogan had an amicable relationship with former US President Donald Trump, Washington slammed Turkey after it brokered a deal with Moscow for the S-400 in 2017.

Turkey was kicked out of its F-35 programme when it received an S-400 missile battery, which the Pentagon said could interfere with the US fighter jets.

Washington said Turkey could be allowed back into the programme if it reversed its decision to acquire the S-400 system but Ankara has since received some deliveries of the system from Russia.

Biden promised to take a tougher stance on Turkey as president, and has already angered Ankara with his declaration that the Ottoman-era mass killings and deportations of Armenians was a "genocide".

Erdogan also met with French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday, where they discussed the presence of Turkish-backed militias in Libya.

Macron said that his Turkish counterpart gave assurances that he wanted foreign mercenaries out of Libya.

"I can tell you President Erdogan confirmed during our meeting his wish that the foreign mercenaries, the foreign militias, operating on Libyan soil leave as soon as possible," Macron said at a press conference just after the NATO summit.

EN DIRECT | Conférence de presse du Président @EmmanuelMacron à l’issue du Sommet de l’OTAN. https://t.co/oh9oojyfVX

— Élysée (@Elysee) June 14, 2021

Relations between Paris and Ankara deteriorated over the war in Libya, with the two countries supporting opposing sides.

Turkey supported the UN-recognised Libyan government in Tripoli, while France backed rebel militia leader Khalifa Haftar, who has been bolstered by the UAE, Russia, and Egypt.

Read more: Can France and Turkey turn a new page in fraught ties?

US political journalism outlet Politico said it had seen a six-month plan Macron put forward to Biden for Libya - with the removal of Turkey's Syrian mercenaries to come first.