Turkey expects to take delivery of Russia’s S-400 missile defense systems next month, despite strong U.S. opposition, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday, according to Business Day.
Speaking to a group of foreign journalists, Erdogan reiterated that the deal with Russia was sealed and there would be no turning back despite vociferous U.S. opposition.
He denied that Washington offered Turkey an “appropriate” deal that would allow it to purchase U.S. Patriot systems instead, adding that he does not expect Washington to go through with the sanctions.
“This business is finished for us and for Russia,” Erdogan said. “The training of personnel has been completed … I believe that in the first 15 (days) of next month, the delivery will take place.”
Turkey’s decision to purchase the Russian system has driven a wedge between the two NATO allies. The United States says the Russian system is incompatible with NATO equipment and poses a risk to its F-35 fighter jet program. It has threatened Turkey to be excluded from the F-35 program and could face sanctions.
Erdogan, scheduled to meet President Donald Trump during a G20 meeting in Japan next week, said he hopes to dissuade the U.S. from imposing sanctions.
Washington, he said, wouldn’t want to lose an ally like Turkey, adding that he would back countermeasures against any U.S. sanction.
“Our (close) relations with Trump are different from those we have with his subordinates,” Erdogan said. “Therefore, I don’t deem that these sanctions and things are likely.”
“Turkey isn’t an ordinary country. I am sure that the United States will be very careful when it takes such a step when considering that our strategic partnership goes back decades,” he added.
Erdogan did not elaborate on the counter-measures Turkey could take. Some commentators have suggested that Turkey could bar U.S. jets from using the key air base of Incirlik, in southern Turkey.
Asked whether Turkey would be excluded from the NATO alliance, Erdogan responded: “The United States does not have the authority to throw out any NATO member from NATO.”