Turkey's procurement of Russian S-400 systems going as planned: Foreign Ministry
Turkey has dismissed reports alleging that Ankara is considering delay in the delivery of advanced Russian built S-400 air defense missile systems in the wake of US pressure and threats of imposing sanctions over the purchase of the military hardware, emphasizing the plan is going on as planned.
AVA- “Reports of some media organs in recent days which say Turkey considers delaying S-400 procurement on US demand are baseless,” Hami Aksoy, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, said on Friday.
“Our procurement process of S-400 from Russia is ongoing as planned,” he added.
Aksoy further noted that Turkey’s offer to form a working group with the United States to discuss Ankara’s pending procurement of Russian S-400 is still valid.
On Thursday, a top Pentagon official said consequences would be “devastating” for Turkey's joint F-35 fighter program and its cooperation with the US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) if the country proceeded with its plan to purchase Russian S-400 missile defense system.
Kathryn Wheelbarger, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, said that Ankara's acquisition of the Russian system would damage its ability to work together with the Western alliance, and force Washington to slap the country with sanctions. Speaking in an exclusive interview with Turkish-language and nationwide Kanal 7 television network on May 5, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said US concerns as to Ankara’s purchase of S-400 systems from Moscow were not reasonable and added that Turkey would not back down.
The US announced on April 1 that it would be suspending all “deliveries and activities” related to Turkey’s procurement of F-35 stealth fighter jets over Ankara’s plans to purchase the S-400s.
On April 24, Turkey Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said his country will look elsewhere for an alternative to American F-35 fighter jets if Washington blocks the delivery of its advanced stealth warplanes to Ankara.
Moscow and Ankara finalized an agreement on the delivery of the S-400 in December 2017.
Back in April 2018, Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin said in Ankara that they had agreed to expedite the delivery of the S-400. At the time, it was said that the delivery could be made between late 2019 and early 2020.
A number of NATO member states have criticized Turkey for its planned purchase of the S-400, arguing the missile batteries are not compatible with those of the military alliance.
They also argue that the purchase could jeopardize Ankara’s acquisition of F-35 fighter jets and possibly result in US sanctions.
The S-400 is an advanced Russian missile system designed to detect, track, and destroy planes, drones, or missiles as far as 402 kilometers away. It has previously been sold only to China and India.
Ankara is striving to boost its air defense, particularly after Washington decided in 2015 to withdraw its Patriot surface-to-air missile system from Turkish border with Syria, a move that weakened Turkey’s air defense.
Before gravitating towards Russia, the Turkish military reportedly walked out of a $3.4-billion contract for a similar Chinese system. The withdrawal took place under purported pressure from Washington.