‘Will use if needed’: Erdogan says Turkey didn’t buy S-400 from Russia ‘to keep them in store’
Turkey didn’t acquire the Russian-built S-400 air defense systems for them to collect dust and may use them, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said, adding the purchase was to reduce Ankara’s dependency on US arms supplies.
“We will not just buy the S-400s and place them in a storehouse. We will use them if need be,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday, as quoted by Hurriyet daily. “This is a defense system. What are we going to do with it if not use this defense system?” he asked.
Turkey has been locked in talks over purchase of Patriot anti-aircraft systems for quite a long time, and the process was influenced by flip-flops in Turkish-American relations. “Are we going to depend on the U.S. again?” the Turkish strongman continued. “When we have been demanding from them for years, the answer that has been given to us is: The [U.S.] Congress is not allowing.”
“We are tired of this,” he stated. In the meantime, Russia has responded to Turkish request for the S-400 “with a pretty alluring offer,” Erdogan could be heard. “They said they would even get into a joint production. And with respect to loans, they have offered us pretty good loan terms.”
Turkish military is expected to take delivery of S-400s starting from 2019. The S-400 Triumf is now the most advanced Russian anti-aircraft system, designed to engage aerodynamic targets at a range of up to 400km and ballistic missiles up to 60km away. An S-400 squadron can deal with up to 36 aerial targets simultaneously.
Moscow and Ankara signed a $2.5 billion agreement on the procurement of Russia’s most advanced S-400 Triumph (known to NATO as the SA-21 Growler) system in December. Russia agreed to speed up deliveries of the system as Turkey took enormous pressure from the US which tried to block the transfer.
“In response to the request by our Turkish partners to speed up the originally planned delivery terms, we are reacting positively,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said earlier in March. He chose not to announce any deadlines, only saying that the implementation of the S-400 deal is among the issues “now discussed in practical terms by specialists; they aren’t for public disclosure.”
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