Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said there was no problem with the purchase of Russian S-400 anti-aircraft systems, adding that Ankara also held talks on the S-500, a THAAD-type system, currently under development.
“In our talks with [Russia President Vladimir] Putin we are not thinking of stopping with the S-400s. We have had talks on the S-500s too,” Erdogan said, speaking to reporters as he returned from a trip to Ukraine and Serbia, as cited by Habertürk newspaper and Reuters.
According to the Turkish president, there won’t be any joint production in the first stage of S-400 purchases.
“…but in the second stage, God willing, we will take joint production steps,” Erdogan said.
Earlier in October, Russia confirmed that it received an advance from Turkey for the state-of-the-art S-400.
“Yes, we have received it [the down payment]. We can’t name the dates of supply yet. They want it earlier [than 2019], but the issue is still under discussion,” Russian presidential aide for military-technical cooperation Vladimir Kozhin said at the time.
The much-discussed Turkey-Russia deal may signal closer ties between both countries, as well as a growing rift between Turkey and its NATO allies.
In July, US Defense Secretary James Mattis said that S-400 anti-aircraft systems are “not going to be interoperable with NATO systems.”
Erdogan lashed out at the critics, saying Turkey doesn’t want to wait for the protection of its NATO allies.
“What do you expect? Should we wait for you?” he said.
On Tuesday NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that Ankara’s decision to buy the S-400 from Moscow does not harm the alliance’s interests.
“I spoke with President Erdogan when I met him in September. I said that the kind of capabilities different nations want to acquire is a national decision,” Stoltenberg said.
The S-500 missile system, developed by Russian manufacturer Almaz-Antey, will enter service in the coming years, the Russian Defense Ministry said earlier this year.
According to The National Interest magazine, the S-500 will be an analogue of the United States’ Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD) and will be “more effective against stealth aircraft.”