Turkey has right to choose its military aircraft, Putin says
As a NATO member, Turkey decided to buy the "best of its class" with Russia's S-400 missile defense, Putin was quoted as saying.
His remarks came during a meeting with officials of leading global news agencies, including Turkey’s Anadolu Agency, as part of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.
Metin Mutanoğlu, Anadolu Agency's deputy director-general, also attended the meeting, the agency reported.
Under an accelerated timetable for the S-400 deal, Russia's first deliveries of the S-400 to Turkey are due in late 2019 or early 2020.
The S-400, Russia's most advanced long-range anti-aircraft missile system, can carry three types of missiles capable of destroying targets including ballistic and cruise missiles.
Turkey may face US sanctions for S-400 deal
A United States Senate committee passed its version of a $716 billion defense policy bill on May 24, including a measure to prevent Turkey from purchasing Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets.
The amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, from Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Republican Senator Thom Tillis, would remove Turkey from the F-35 program over its detention of U.S. citizen Andrew Brunson, Shaheen’s office said.
Brunson, a Christian pastor who could be jailed for up to 35 years, denied terrorism and spying charges in a Turkish court this month. He has been in pre-trial detention since 2016.
It also faults NATO ally Turkey for its agreement with Russia in December 2017 to buy S-400 surface-to-air missile batteries. Ankara wants the system to boost its defense capabilities amid conflicts across its borders in Syria and Iraq.
According to Shaheen’s office, the intention to purchase the Russian system is sanctionable under U.S. law.
Turkey has said it would retaliate if the U.S. enacted a law halting weapons sales to the country.
Turkey plans to buy more than 100 of the F-35 jets, and has had talks with Washington about the purchase of Patriot missiles.
The move to buy S-400s, which are incompatible with the NATO systems, has unnerved NATO member countries, which are already wary of Moscow’s military presence in the Middle East, prompting NATO officials to warn Turkey of unspecified consequences.