Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country has already bought the Russian S-400 missile air defense systems and expects that they will be sent in July, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
“Turkey has already bought S-400 defense systems. It is a done deal. I hope these systems will be delivered to our country next month,” he said on Wednesday, during a Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s meeting in the capital Ankara.
Reuters reported that Erdogan’s latest statement on the S-400 deal with Russia would be likely to add to current tensions with Turkey’ NATO ally, the United States.
“We will call to account in every platform Turkey being excluded from the F-35 program for reasons without rationale or legitimacy. Turkey is not only a buyer but also a manufacturing partner in the program,” he also said, referring to the Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-35 stealth fighters.
Ankara and Washington have been in public conflict for months over Turkey’s deal with Russia to purchase the S-400s, which are argued by the US and other NATO countries to be incompatible with the organization’s systems.
Last week, US acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan explained how the Turkish government would be pulled out of the F-35 fighter jet program unless they changed course from their plans to buy the Russian missile defense systems.
The country recently criticized the US letter and argued that it did not live up to the spirit of the NATO alliance. Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar has informed that they are currently working on a response that will be sent to Washington in a few days.
The US and some other NATO members that are part of the F-35 program hold forth that Turkey’s acquisition of the Russian defense system poses a threat to the fighter jets.
Washington has repeatedly warned Ankara of potential US sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) if it carries on with the S-400 treaty.
Although forming a joint working group to evaluate the impact of the S-400 surface-to-air defense systems aiming to alleviate the US and NATO over security concerns has been repeatedly proposed by Turkey, its NATO ally has so far not accepted the suggestion.
Erdogan also stated that he wanted to talk about the S-400 issue on the phone with Washington prior to meeting President Donald Trump in Osaka, Japan, at the end of June.
Moscow announced on Tuesday that it planned to deliver the missile defense systems to Ankara next month, setting the clock ticking on the US sanctions threat.
After lengthy efforts to purchase an air defense system from the US with no success, Turkey in 2017 decided to buy the Russian S-400 system and signed the agreement.
Washington advised Ankara to buy its Patriot missile system instead of S-400s, at a discount that expired at the end of March, on condition that it canceled the deal with Russia.