Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Ankara will use the S-400 air defense systems purchased from Russia if necessary.
“We bought them [S-400 systems] and it was not to store them in tanks, they will be used properly if that’s what we need.” What should we do with these defensive systems if we do not use them?” Erdogan told TGRT.
In December 2017, Russia and Turkey signed a contract to supply S-400 air defense systems to Ankara. Two S-400 batteries will be operated and maintained by the Turkish military, according to the Turkish secretary for the defense industry. In April, the director general of the Russian arms exporting state, Rosoboronexport, said that Russia started manufacturing S-400 systems for Turkey.
The deal sparked misunderstandings between Ankara and Washington. US officials have threatened to impose sanctions on Turkey as they believe the weapon is incompatible with NATO defenses.
In mid-April, Undersecretary of State for European Affairs and Eurasia Wess Mitchell said that the acquisition of Russia’s S-400 air defense systems by Ankara could adversely affect the delivery of fifth generation F-35 fighters to Turkey. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu responded by saying that Ankara would take retaliatory action against Washington if it blocked delivery of the aircraft.
Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on Friday that the acquisition of the Russian S-400 air defense systems is in the interest of the Turkish nation, as long as it minimizes the country’s external dependence.
“The purchase of the S-400 anti-missile systems is interesting for the Turkish nation, which has nothing to do with politics […] Russian anti-aircraft systems reduce Turkey’s external dependence,” Soylu was quoted as saying by Anadolu.
The Interior Minister noted that Turkey would be unable to repel a missile strike on the country, and Russia’s anti-missile systems would step in to strengthen the country’s anti-aircraft defense systems. Soylu added that countries with advanced defense systems want to disarm Turkish military capabilities.