ANKARA, December 6. /TASS/. Ankara’s position on the purchase of Russian-made S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems remains unchanged, spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry Hami Aksoy said on Friday.
"Our position on the S-400 issue is clear and it has not changed. We believe that this is our sovereign right [to buy S-400s]… After that, we will continue strengthening our defense industry in the same manner," he said, replying to a question from TASS on the possibility of signing a deal with Russia on new deliveries of S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems to Turkey.
The issue of the possible deliveries of US Patriot anti-aircraft missile systems to Ankara is not closed either, he added.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said at the Mediterranean Dialogues international conference in Rome broadcast by the Anadolu news agency on Friday that Turkey had purchased S-400 surface-to-air missile systems from Russia due to NATO’s refusal to sell similar armament.
"Turkey needs air-defense systems. Did we try to buy from our allies? Yes, for the last 10 years. But we couldn’t get them. So it is not a political reason," the Turkish foreign minister stressed.
Russia announced in September 2017 that it had signed a $2.5 billion deal with Turkey on the delivery of S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems to Ankara. Under the contract, Ankara will get a regiment set of S-400 air defense missile systems (two battalions). The deal also envisages partial transfer of production technology to the Turkish side.
Turkey is the first NATO member state to purchase such air-defense missile systems from Russia. The deliveries of S-400 air defense systems to Turkey began on July 12, 2019.
The United States and NATO have been making attempts to prevent Turkey from purchasing Russia's S-400 missile systems. Washington has warned on many occasions that it may impose sanctions on Turkey, if Ankara presses ahead with the S-400 deal. On July 17, the press secretary of the US White House said in a written statement that Turkey’s decision to acquire Russian-made S-400 air defense systems rendered Ankara’s further participation in the US program of the fifth-generation F-35 fighter-bomber impossible.
The S-400 ‘Triumf’ is the most advanced long-range air defense missile system that went into service in Russia in 2007. It is designed to destroy aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles, including medium-range weapons, and can also be used against ground installations. The S-400 can engage targets at a distance of 400 km and at an altitude of up to 30 km.