Turkey can procure more defense systems from Russia, US: Çavuşoğlu

Turkey can procure more defense systems from Russia, US: Çavuşoğlu

Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
Turkey can procure more defense systems from Russia, US: Çavuşoğlu

Turkey needs more defense systems in addition to the two Russian S-400 air-defense batteries it has deployed this year, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Nov. 27.

“Two S-400 systems alone are not sufficient or us. We can get S-400 or we can get Patriots from the U.S,” Çavuşoğlu said at a joint news conference with his Somali counterpart, Ahmed Issa Awad.

Turkey continues to hold talks with the United States but will not accept any imposed measures or conditions, he said, noting that if the U.S. gives assurances, Ankara would like to buy a Patriot missile defense system.

“In the latest talks, we have seen a positive approach from the Americans on the issue of the joint production and technology,” the minister said on the procurement of Patriot systems.

“Why is Turkey forced to choose between the U.S. and Russia? What matters is mutual benefit and respect for sovereign rights,” Çavuşoğlu stated.

Responding to the remarks by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the S-400 systems, Çavuşoğlu said the Russian system was not purchased “ to keep it in a box.” Moreover, Turkey needs the system. He recalled that only one Spanish defense system is deployed in southern Turkey as part of a NATO mission.

“It’s concerning,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Nov. 26. “But we have made very clear to the Turkish government our desire to see them move away from the putting into full operationalization of the S-400 weapons system.”

The U.S. says there is a risk that sensitive information about operational and technical capacities could be gleaned if the S-400 is used alongside Western equipment, especially the new F-35 jet.

Turkey has ordered 100 F-35s, and its defense industry was part of the supply chain for the new jet, until it was suspended from the program due to the S-400 purchase.

Saying that S-400 issue was mentioned during President Erdoğan’s visit to Washington, Çavuşoğlu stressed that Turkey and the U.S. disagree on the S-400, and this is one of the issues that negatively affect Turkey-U.S. relations.

Ankara received its first Russian S-400 battery in July. The delivery of the first battery was completed on July 25, and the second battery started in August.

Çavuşoğlu recalled Turkey’s proposal to form a working group to clarify any technical issues on the possible impact of using S-400 systems on F-35 fighter jets, but the U.S. has failed to respond.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said his American counterpart Donald Trump agreed to task their respective ministers and national security advisers to work on resolving the S-400 issue until April, aiming to launch a mechanism.

Talks are still ongoing to launch a mechanism between Turkish and U.S. officials on the issue. Most recently the U.S. ambassador in Ankara had talks with his Turkish counterparts, while Presidential Aide İbrahim Kalın continues dialogue with U.S. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien. U.S. and Turkish ministers also discussed the S-400 issue on the sidelines of a NATO ministerial meeting, Çavuşoğlu said.

However, the U.S. has yet to agree to form a working group to develop such a mechanism, a Turkish diplomatic source told Hürriyet Daily News, noting that both parties keep up dialogue seeking a solution.

The U.S. has maximalist demands on the issue of S-400 systems, the sources said, noting that Ankara and Washington discuss “achievable and practical” ways, said the source.