MOSCOW, April 4. /TASS/. Ankara’s tough position on the purchase of the Russian S-400 missile systems proves that Turkey refuses to be dictated, Russian Federation Council (the upper house of parliament) Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Konstantin Kosachev told TASS on Thursday. However, in his view, Turkey is unlikely to be expelled from NATO over its stance.
US Vice President Michael Pence said at a NATO 70th anniversary event on Wednesday that Turkey must make a choice. "Does it want to remain a critical partner in the most successful military alliance in history, or does it want to risk the security of that partnership by making such reckless decisions that undermine our alliance?" he said.
"I believe that NATO’s Washington meeting will not make any of the parties change its position, debates will continue. Turkey will neither leave nor be expelled from NATO," Kosachev pointed out. "However, the very war of words with Washington confirms that Ankara realizes its military and political significance and refuses to be dictated," the Russian senator pointed out.
He said that Pence had, in fact, given an ultimatum to Turkey. "It certainly has nothing to do with the alleged technical incompatibilities between Russian and NATO weapons, so Turkey made it clear by giving a Pence-style response: it is the US that has to choose whether it wants to remain Turkey’s ally or risk friendly relations, joining forces with terrorists to undermine Ankara’s security. It is a clear hint at the United States’ support for the Kurdish armed units in Syria," Kosachev noted.
According to the senior Russian senator, Ankara has taken a tough stance because "it has more powerful cards up his sleeve." In particular, Turkey is a most important NATO member in the Black Sea region.
"Simply speaking, NATO needs Turkey more than Turkey needs NATO because the Alliance can provide little help to Ankara in resolving the issues it is facing. At the same time, Turkey is not inclined to support the hysteria built on the alleged ‘Russian threat,’ and the S-400 deal is another proof of that," Kosachev emphasized.
News about Russian-Turkish talks on the delivery of the S-400 systems first came in November 2016. In September 2017, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that Ankara had signed a contract with Moscow on purchasing the S-400 complexes and made an advance payment. Ankara will begin the deployment of the S-400 systems in October 2019, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a press conference following talks with Erdogan that Moscow had decided to step up the delivery of the S-400 systems to Ankara. Erdogan, in turn, said on March 9 that Turkey would not abandon plans to purchase the Russian missile systems.
The US has recently suspended Turkey’s participation in the F-35 program over Ankara’s plans to buy the S-400 systems from Russia.
The S-400 Triumf (NATO reporting name: SA-21 Growler) is the most advanced long-range anti-aircraft missile system that went into service in 2007. It is designed to destroy aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles, including medium-range ones, and can also be used against ground objectives. The S-400 system can engage targets at a distance of 400 km and at an altitude of up to 35 km.