Erdogan Says Trump Assured Him of no Sanctions over Russia Weapons Purchase

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with U.S. President Donald Trump at the G20 summit in Osaka, where Trump urged the Turkish leader not to proceed with the purchase of Russia’s advanced S-400 ground-to-air defense system, RFE/RL reports.

After the meeting on Saturday, Erdogan claimed he was reassured by President Donald Trump that Washington would not impose sanctions on Ankara over its purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system.

“We heard from him that there won’t be anything like this (sanctions),” Erdogan told a press conference in Osaka following the 35-minute meeting.

“It is out of the question that such a thing takes place between two strategic allies. I believe it cannot happen,” Erdogan said.

Erdogan said that Turkey expected the delivery of US F-35 stealth fighter jets despite the controversy over the S-400 deal.

There hasn’t been any confirmation from the US on Erdogan’s assertion. According to Reuters, Trump expressed understanding of Turkey’s decision but did not rule out sanctions in response.

Erdogan also said that he expected the S-400 delivery to start in the first half of July, adding that Turkey had invested $1.4 billion (€1.23 billion) in its production so far.

“Our related institutions have stated that the delivery would start within the first half of the month of July,” Erdogan said. “The expectations are within this timeframe.”

Erdogan’s claim that the U.S. won’t sanction Turkey over S-400 purchase came just days after acting U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper expressed Washington’s concern over the missile system deal.

“Turkey has been a longstanding and trusted partner and ally for many, many years,” Esper told his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar on Wednesday. “The pursuit of the S-400 undermines that.”

Turkey’s plan to buy the Russian air defense system has been a cause of tension within the NATO military alliance, which both the United States and Turkey belong to. The US and other NATO members fear Russia could spy on NATO aircraft through the S-400 system.