MOSCOW, May 6. /TASS/. Turkey will be acting in accordance with its national interests in making decisions that concern the purchase of air defense weapons and it defies attempts to trigger debate over the S-400 contract with Russia, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in Ankara on Monday.
"We will be taking steps [concerning the purchase of air defense systems] in accordance with our national interests but at the same time retain strong positions in NATO. We are firmly against attempts to trigger debate over the S-400," Erdogan said in a live telecast on the NTV channel.
He pointed out that Turkey’s relations with other countries in the field of arms purchases were mutually complementing and not antagonistic for the country’s defense strategy. Erdogan warned against forcing Turkey into a corner or trying to make gains at its expense. "Those who try to do so have no idea of Turkey’s history and place in the world," he said.
The first reports of Turkey’s negotiations with Russia over the S-400 systems emerged in November 2016. Russia confirmed the conclusion of the contract on September 12, 2017. Turkey’s National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said the S-400s would begin to be deployed in October 2019. The CEO of Russia’s Rostec corporation, Sergey Chemezov, said the value of the S-400 contract with Turkey stood at $2.5 billion. Turkey is the first NATO member-country to have obtained air defense systems of this class from Russia.
The United States is against the deployment of S-400 systems in Turkey. It argues that these systems cannot be built in NATO’s defense system and endanger the security of the 5th generation fighter F-35 project.