MOSCOW/ANKARA – Jun 10, 2020 – Turkey and Russia have agreed on the delivery of new batteries of the advanced Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems, the head of Turkey’s Defense Industry said.
“The parties have concluded an agreement in principle on the supply of the second batch. The roadmap of the deal includes the transfer of [relevant] technologies and joint production [of the system],” Ismail Demir said in an exclusive interview with the Turkish-language NTV television news network on Monday.
He added that Turkey and Russia are continuing negotiations on further implementation of the contract on the delivery of S-400 air defense systems.
“As we have always said, if some system is purchased, this is done for its operation. That’s it. As for putting the systems into operation, the world has passed through a certain stage [as a result of the pandemic] and the pace of work has slowed down while trips have been limited. All this has affected the deployment of S-400s,” the senior Turkish military official noted, commenting on the discussion ongoing in Turkey that S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems may not be activated and put on combat duty.
Demir went on to say that “Ankara is ready to continue work upon receiving specific proposals [for the purchase of US-built Patriot air defense systems], but the matter has not gone any further.”
Ankara and Washington have been at loggerheads over Turkey’s purchase of the S-400 systems, which the United States says are not compatible with NATO defenses and poses a threat to Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter jets. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusglu told CNN Turk in an exclusive interview last September that S-400 missile systems would be activated despite repeated US warnings.
“They (US officials) told us ‘don’t activate them and we can sort this out’, but we told them that we didn’t buy these systems as a prop,” the top Turkish diplomat said back then, adding that Turkey would be open to buying US-made Patriot surface-to-air missile systems as well.
Moscow and Ankara finalized an agreement on the delivery of the S-400 in December 2017.
Back in April 2018, Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin said in Ankara that they had agreed to expedite the delivery of the S-400. At the time, it was said that the delivery could be made between late 2019 and early 2020. A number of NATO member states have criticized Turkey for the purchase of the S-400, arguing the missile batteries are not compatible with those of the military alliance.
They also argue that the purchase could jeopardize Ankara’s acquisition of F-35 fighter jets and possibly result in US sanctions. The S-400 is an advanced Russian missile system designed to detect, track, and destroy planes, drones, or missiles as far as 400 kilometers away. It has previously been sold only to China and India.
Ankara is striving to boost its air defense, particularly after the US decided in 2015 to withdraw its Patriot surface-to-air missile system from the Turkish border with Syria, a move that weakened Turkey’s air defense. Before gravitating towards Russia, the Turkish military walked out of a $3.4-billion contract for a similar Chinese system. The withdrawal took place under purported pressure from Washington.
Given what is known about Turkey, it should be noted that the country is a notoriously unreliable partner, often shifting alliances and breaking agreements. Another crucially important issue is Turkey’s openly aggressive foreign policy towards virtually all of its neighbors.
Turkish encroachment and constant violations of Greek airspace and maritime areas have recently escalated into a full-blown crawling migrant-assisted invasion of Greece’s mainland at the Greek-Turkish land border. Luckily, Greece has successfully repelled the invasion.
Turkey is even worse when it comes to its other neighbors. Turkish troops have been assisting various terrorist groups in Syria and Libya, while also attacking both countries. It has also been illegally extracting resources off the coast of northern Cyprus, a territory it has illegally occupied after invading Cyprus in 1974.