Turkish President takes important decision over purchase of S - 400 missiles defence system from Russia

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Turkish President takes important decision over purchase of S - 400 missiles defence system from Russia

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Ankara will continue talks with Moscow for the procurement of the second batch of advanced Russian-made S-400 air defense systems, and both sides would discuss details at the end of the current month.

Erdogan told reporters on Friday that Turkey is determined to proceed with the S-400 deal despite US strong opposition.

“No country can determine the steps we will take towards our defense industry. This is entirely up to us. We had handled the first package for the S-400 with Russia, and now [talks] for the second package continue based on our previous negotiation,” the Turkish leader said.

“We don’t know what the incoming [John] Biden administration would say, but we’re not in a position to ask for permission,” he added.

Erdogan noted that Turkey is a party to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), but would not accept any member of the US-led Western military alliance to “guide” it.

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The Turkish president then criticized the United States for removing Ankara from the F-35 fighter jet program on July 15 last year, after the latter purchased Russian S-400 missile defense system in a move that also triggered US sanctions.

Turkey paid “a massive amount of money’’ for the F-35 stealth jets, Erdogan said, adding that “this is a very serious mistake that [the United States of] America has done to us.”

On December 14 last year, the United States imposed sanctions on Turkey over its acquisition of advanced Russian S-400 missile defense systems, with Ankara condemning 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 Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB), its chairman Ismail Demir and three other Turkish defense officials, namely Mustafa Alper Deniz, Serhat Gencoglu and Faruk Yigit.

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. At the time, it was said that the delivery could be made between late 2019 and early 2020.

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

On November 12, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar downplayed concerns over his country's intention to utilize S-400 air defense systems, saying Ankara will use the armament just as other members of the NATO military alliance employ their S-300 defense systems.

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 had previously been sold only to China and India.