The United States has warned its allies against buying S-400 air defense systems from Russia and threatened sanctions against any country anywhere that acquires the state-of-the-art system.
Speaking at a graduation ceremony of non-commissioned officers on Friday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey will soon receive two S-400 air defense systems from Russia earlier than initially planned, the Ankara-based news agency Anadolu reported.
Erdogan said Turkey is pursuing its own interests and struggling to reach its own goals “in the face of the efforts of those who try to shape both our country and our region according to their own agenda.”
“We do not regret our decisions,” he added.
In December 2017, Turkey said it had inked an agreement with Russia for the delivery of the advanced systems by early 2020.
However, in April 2018, the two sides agreed on the early delivery of two batteries of S-400 missiles.
Washington is seriously concerned about Ankara’s push to buy the state-of-the-art anti-aircraft missile system, with the ability to carry three types of missiles capable of destroying targets, including ballistic and cruise missiles.
In February an unnamed US official told the Turkish newspaper Haberturk that this could “negatively influence the interoperability of NATO” and that the White House may introduce punitive measures in response.
In June, the US Senate passed a bill banning the sale of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets to Turkey citing Ankara’s planned purchase of two batteries of the S-400 air defense missile system from Russia.
Turkish officials have responded to Washington’s pressure by saying that Ankara does not accept sanctions from NATO partners when discussing deliveries of the Russian S-400 system.
President Erdogan, when speaking in Ankara on April 9, said that Turkey would not backtrack from its decision to buy the S-400 missile systems.
Turkey’s relations with the EU remain equally tense as talks on Ankara’s membership in the 28-nation bloc have effectively been suspended.
Erdogan said that Turkey needed alliances with other nations besides the European countries and the US.
“We know very well what kind of activities those who force us to have a unilateral relationship are carrying out either secretly or publicly all around the world,” he emphasized.
In December 2017, Russia and Turkey inked a loan agreement for the delivery of two batteries of S-400 missiles to Ankara by early-2020.
Russia also agreed to provide technological know-how for the production of a new generation of Turkish air defense systems.