‘No return’ from procurement of Russian missiles: Turkish presidential spokesperson
Turkey will not retreat from procuring the Russian S-400 anti-missile defense systems despite U.S. warnings for sanctions, Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said on June 28.
“Turkey will not step back from its decision even if they [U.S.] will apply sanctions,” Kalın told Bloomberg.
The Turkish government will decide for itself which defense system and technology it will purchase, he said.
The spokesperson stated that Ankara would always prefer to keep good relations with its ally the U.S., but it “will not allow limitations on its sovereignty.”
“Let’s see what they will put forward as sanctions. We will take steps accordingly. Turkey’s determination will not step back on its determination,” Kalın said.
“There is no question of returning from here. Agreements were made, signatures were rolled out, [the systems] will be delivered next year,” he said.
Elaborating on the U.S. call for halting oil imports from Iran, Kalın said Turkey will act in line with its economic interests.
“Iran is our neighbor, an important economic partner. We will not get into any engagement that would risk all these,” he said.
Last December, Turkey announced that it had concluded an agreement with Russia for the purchase of two S-400 systems by late 2019.
On April 3, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin said in Ankara that they had agreed to shorten the duration of the systems’ delivery. The delivery is expected to start in either late 2019 or early 2020.
Turkey, a NATO member, has long been under pressure from its main NATO allies, particularly the United States, to cancel the agreement for the procurement of the S-400s systems, as they cannot be interoperable with existing NATO anti-ballistic defense architecture.
A bill legislated at the U.S. Congress in 2017 imposes sanctions on countries and companies who engage in contracts to purchase Russian weaponry.
Washington has concerns that this deployment would endanger the flights of NATO aircrafts, particularly F-35s that are also on Turkey’s procurement plans from the U.S.