ANKARA, April 10. /TASS/. The deliveries of Russia’s S-400 missile systems to Turkey may be carried out by this July or earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters shortly after his visit to Moscow.
There is a great international interest in Ankara’s purchase of the S-400 and Turkish ministers are frequently asked whether Turkey has changed its decision, Erdogan said.
"We tell them 'this is a job completed, all is ready.' The delivery of the S-400 missile defense system was supposed to be in July, it may be done earlier," the president was quoted by the Daily Sabah newspaper as saying.
The Turkish leader commented on Washington’s criticism against Ankara over the S-400 deal. "We are here as one of the strongest military powers of NATO. When such criticism is being made, how come nobody mentions this side of Turkey? I mean, why shouldn't one of NATO's strongest militaries have a strong air defense systems?" Erdogan said.
Erdogan also responded to an ultimatum by US Vice President Mike Pence, who had called on Turkey to make a choice between partnership with NATO and the S-400 deal. "Pence's remarks are non-binding. NATO General-Secretary Jens Stoltenberg's remarks were. NATO's general-secretary is not Pence. Stoltenberg had already said the last word with his remarks and he did that a few times," the Turkish president said.
The news about the Russian-Turkish talks on the purchase of S-400 systems first came in November 2016. Moscow confirmed that the contract had been signed on September 12, 2017. Erdogan announced that Ankara had made an advance payment. The United States has been taking vigorous efforts to prevent Turkey from purchasing Russia’s S-400 air defense systems. Earlier, the Pentagon stated that Turkey’s purchase of the S-400 system jeopardized Ankara’s participation in a program on creating advanced US F-35 multirole fighters.