Turkey to go ahead with Russia S-400 deal despite suspension from F-35 program
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Turkey to go ahead with Russia S-400 deal despite suspension from F-35 program

Erdogan says purchase of defense system already finalized, criticizes US for what he says were unfavorable terms for purchase of Patriot batteries

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan during their meeting in Tehran, Iran, on September 7, 2018 (AFP Photo/Pool/Kirill Kudryavtsev)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan during their meeting in Tehran, Iran, on September 7, 2018 (AFP Photo/Pool/Kirill Kudryavtsev)

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday vowed to go ahead with a deal to purchase Russian missiles despite Washington’s suspension of Turkey’s participation in a US jet program because of security concerns over the Russian deal.

Turkey’s agreement to buy the Russian S-400 system has further tested its relations with Washington, stoking US concern about Erdogan’s burgeoning relationship with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

United States officials have repeatedly warned of the risks the Russian system would pose to Western defenses and the lack of interoperability with NATO hardware.

Relations between NATO allies US and Turkey were already on shaky ground over issues including US support to a Syrian Kurdish militia viewed by Ankara as terrorists.

The US said on Monday it was halting all deliveries and joint work with Turkey on the F-35 fighter jet program if Ankara insisted on the deal.

The Russian S-400 missile defense system during a Victory Day military parade in Moscow’s Red Square,May 9, 2017. (AFP Photo/Natalia Kolesnikova)

“The S-400 process is complete,” Erdogan said on Friday, adding that the first delivery of the system would be in July.

Erdogan criticized “really wrong” statements coming from the US over the S-400 purchase and suggested NATO allies should not sanction each other.

Turkey could be sanctioned by Washington under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which rules that any entity doing business with Russia’s state and private defense and intelligence sectors risks sanctions.

The S-400 is an anti-missile and anti-aircraft weapon system, similar to the US Patriot.

Washington has suggested Turkey could opt for Patriot missiles instead.

But Erdogan said although Ankara was keen to buy the US-produced missiles, “America was unfortunately not giving Patriots to us on the same terms” as Russia.

Illustrative: In this photo from September 2, 2015, an F-35 jet arrives at its new operational base at Hill Air Force Base, in northern Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

He has previously said Turkey wanted joint production, credit and early delivery in any Patriot deal, but said Washington did not look favorably on the first two terms.

Despite the US suspension, Erdogan said three F-35 jets had been delivered, though they remain in the US. “The fourth will be delivered in a few weeks.”

He said that Turkish pilots were still training in the US.

Erdogan will be in Russia on Monday for talks with Russian counterpart Putin, his third visit to the country this year.

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