Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Turkey): S-400 purchase of Russia a “closed deal”

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Turkey has already completed the purchase of the Russian missile defense system S-400, according to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “It's a closed deal,” Erdogan said Wednesday evening at an event of his AKP party in Ankara. “I am not saying that Turkey wants to buy the S-400 system, but we have already bought it.” The anti-aircraft missiles are expected to be delivered in July.

This is another fight with the US about the program of the US fighter jet F-35 preprogrammed.

The USA had set a deadline for the NATO partner Turkey until the end of July in order to dispense with the purchase of Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missiles. Among other things, the US Department of Defense threatened to permanently exclude Turkey from the joint production of F-35 fighter jets.

Erdogan now said that he would present his arguments to US President Donald Trump before the G20 summit in late June in a telephone conversation. On the sidelines of the meeting of the 20 largest industrial and emerging countries in Japan, a meeting of the two heads of state is planned. He wanted to discuss the issue with Trump and return to the “starting point,” said Erdogan.

Shortly before Erdogan's statement, his Defense Minister Hulusi Akar had protested against Washington's move to exclude the NATO partner from the F-35 fighter jet program. This contradicts the “spirit of the Alliance” between the two countries, said Akar during a visit to Azerbaijan.

Turkey has made a firm commitment to the Russia-agreed purchase of the S-400 missile defense system. The US sees this as a threat: Washington argues that Russia could get data on the capabilities of the new F-35 stealth aircraft via the missiles installed in Turkey (read more about NATO's concerns here).


Putin and Erdogan in April in the Kremlin


Maxim Shipenkov / REUTERS

Putin and Erdogan in April in the Kremlin

In a letter released last Friday, US Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan informed his Turkish colleague Akar about the planned measures to suspend Turkish participation in the program from the end of July.

Although the letter expresses the expectation to find a solution, said Akar on Wednesday. But: “We have seen from the first moment that the tone does not correspond to the spirit of the covenant.” Turkey will prepare an answer in the coming days. On Thursday, Akar claims to make phone calls to Shanahan. At the end of June, a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels will be holding a personal meeting.

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