Turkey will use the S-400 surface-to-air missile batteries it plans to acquire from Russia “if necessary,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on June 11.
“We will not just buy the S-400s and place them in a storehouse. We will use them if need be. This is a defense system. What are we going to do with it if not use this defense system? Are we going to depend on the U.S. again? When we have been demanding from them for years, the answer that has been given to us is: The [U.S.] Congress is not allowing. We are tired of this,” Erdoğan said.
“Russia has responded to our offer with a pretty alluring offer. They said they would even get into a joint production. And with respect to loans, they have offered us pretty good loan terms. Right now, we are running this process as this,” the president said.
Erdoğan made the remarks during a joint live broadcast by private TV channels TGRT Haber, TVNET, Beyaz TV and Akit TV in Istanbul.
Turkey and Russia signed the S-400 accord in December, finalizing a deal which deepened military ties between NATO member Turkey and the Kremlin.
But the deal has worried the West, particularly the U.S., as the latter has said that the system cannot be integrated into NATO’s military architecture. There were also concerns that Russian involvement in operating the S-400s will allow Moscow to have access to the allied codes and information about NATO facilities on Turkish soil. A top Turkish official was previously quoted as saying that Russia will deliver the first batteries of the S-400 anti-ballistic missile systems in July 2019.
“The time of the delivery cited in the agreement for the procurement of S-400s has been brought forward to July 2019,” İsmail Demir, the head of the Undersecreteriat for Defense Industries (SSM), had said on April 4.