Ankara’s decision to purchase the Russian S-400 air defense systems was worth the tensions it caused with the United States, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in an interview with The New York Times, stressing that Turkey buys its own weapons.
According to Erdogan, who noted Turkey can strengthen its defense as it pleases, Ankara wouldn’t have had to buy the S-400s had Washington sold it its Patriot missile defense systems.
Turkey signed a contract with Russia for the delivery of the S-400 systems in 2017, becoming the first NATO country to purchase Russian systems, prompting a negative reaction from the US and NATO in general.
Stressing that Ankara’s decision to purchase Russian S-400 air defense systems renders Turkey’s continued involvement with the F-35 impossible, Washington also threatened to impose sanctions, finally introducing restrictions in December.
He plans to discuss the $1.4 billion Turkey paid for the F-35 jets it can no longer buy when he meets with President Biden at the G20 in Rome next month. They will also meets at the UN’ climate summit in Glasgow.
However, Erdogan claimes that NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and former US President Donald Trump later had reaffirmed Turkey’s right to choose arms suppliers.
He also said pointed that the US-Turkish relationship remained fundamentally important, underscoring that the long ties Turkey has with the US must be reinforced and protected.
Yet, despite the warning of further sanctions from the US, Erdogan said after talks with President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday that Turkey is considering more joint defence industry steps with Russia including for fighter jets and submarines.
He also proposed joint construction of two more nuclear power plants with Russia on top of the nuclear power plant Russia’s Rosatom is building in Akkuyu, in southern Turkey, while Putin has suggested developing space rocket launches platforms.
Many experts consider Erdogan’s diplomacy with Russia as a bargaining position- he threatens the US by cozying up to Putin but creating distance with Russia when asking something from Washington.