Turkey says it has already bought Russian S-400 defense systems

Clay Curtis
June 13, 2019

Meanwhile, Russia's stance on Turkey's purchase of its S-400 missile defense system has not changed, the country's ambassador to Turkey said on June 12.

USA acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said last week he had sent a letter to his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar informing him of Washington's decision to pull Turkey out of the F-35 programme.

Erdogan also vowed to seek answers on Turkey's "exclusion from F-35 project for reasons that have no rational or legitimate basis", adding that Turkey was not only a customer but also a programme partner of the F-35 project.

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Turkey has already purchased S-400 missile defence systems from Russian Federation and expects delivery next month, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday, despite Washington's objections to the deal.

Writing to Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar last week, USA acting Secretary of Defence Patrick Shanahan outlined how Turkey would be pulled out of the F-35 programme unless Ankara changes course from its plans to purchase the Russian S-400 missile defence system.

In what has become a major point of disagreement between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies, the United States has long pushed Turkey to stop its purchase of the Russian S-400s, saying the system would compromise the F-35s.

Mr Erdogan said he hoped to resolve the situation with the United States through phone diplomacy ahead of a meeting with President Trump at the end of June, Reuters reported.

Turkey has criticized the letter from Washington and said it did not live up to the spirit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance.

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But in the following days, Shanahan told reporters he was unaware of the Turkish request to form a working group.

"But before there, we would like to discuss this issue (on the F-35 program) by telephone and reverse it from the current situation back to where we started", Erdogan said in a televised speech.

Following protracted efforts to purchase an air defence system from the USA with no success, Ankara decided in 2017 to purchase the Russian S-400 system.

Shanahan said on Friday the United States offer for the Patriots was "very competitive" but Erdogan said Russian Federation offered a better deal including reasonable pricing and a joint-production promise.

"However, unfortunately, the U.S. side has not given us an offer as good as the S-400s", he said.

"This is not an attack system but a defence system".

Turkey has been pursuing an increasingly independent defence policy and has been establishing closer links with Russian Federation after a recent souring of its ties with the USA and Europe. "No, they didn't", he said.

The US has also threatened to hit Turkey with sanctions if it goes ahead with the deal.

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