Mon, May 20, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Turkey’s Erdogan expecting missiles soon

US CONCERN:It was out of the question for Ankara to cancel the deal for Russian-made S-400s, the Turkish president said, adding that US concerns were not warranted


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ruled out US demands that Ankara delay the purchase of an advanced Russian missile-defense system and said Moscow might bring forward the delivery date from July.

“It is definitely out of the question for us to step back on the issue of S-400s; it is a done deal,” Erdogan said in a televised speech in Istanbul late on Saturday. “Our deal was to have the S-400s delivered to us by July; they will probably bring that forward.”

Erdogan’s stance could further strain ties between the NATO allies.

The US last week asked Ankara to delay taking the system to next year, people familiar with the proposal said.

Pushing ahead with the deal carries a high risk of US sanctions that could plunge Turkey into renewed economic turmoil.

The accord with Moscow also highlights Turkey’s aspirations for an increasingly independent role in regional policies and the mutual erosion of trust with Washington.

“The S-400 is a defensive system and has a long range. As for the payment plan, Russia has given us very suitable conditions,” Erdogan said, adding that Turkey had sent 100 engineers to Russia to help make the weapons.

“After the S-400s, the S-500s are also considered and there will be co-production of S-500s as well,” he said.

The administration of US President Donald Trump has said that integrating such a system into NATO’s second-largest army could help Moscow gather critical intelligence on the stealth capabilities of the next generation F-35 jets, which Turkish manufacturers help build.

Erdogan dismissed the US’ concerns, saying that Turkish military experts were good at deciding what to purchase.

The US has warned that Turkey could face expulsion from Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-35 program and also face sanctions under two pieces of US legislation: the Magnitsky Act and CAATSA, which allows the punishment of entities doing business with parts of the Russian state.

A bipartisan group of eight senior members of the US House of Representatives on Wednesday introduced a resolution calling on Turkey to cancel the planned S-400 acquisition.

When the US previously sanctioned some members of the Turkish government, it amplified problems already haunting the nation’s economy. An ensuing collapse in the value of the currency hastened the country’s first recession in a decade.

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