Despite months of back and forth, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday he sees no reason to try to resume a long-stalled deal to buy the Russian S-400 defense system. But instead of trying to bring back the deal that has blocked him from creating a unified NATO NATO missile defense system, Erdogan said that he would seek an alternative supply of Russian missiles.
“We are examining our options and plan for the supply of new weapons and surveillance systems from Moscow,” he said in a speech. “Because we don’t have any agreement [with the United States] for the purchase of S-400, we will go to Russia with such a proposal.”
The U.S. has repeatedly barred Turkey from the purchase of the S-400. In 2017, the Trump administration — which has endorsed Erdogan’s enemies in the Turkish military and intelligence — told the Turkish government that it would not sell the Russian system to Turkey. President Trump said he was blocking the deal, allowing Ankara to open its airspace for the Russian missile batteries. In the last few weeks, Erdogan has had a strained relationship with some American officials and Congress, and he has suggested that he would give ground on the missile deal and even take the system into Turkish military service.
“We said to them: Look, give us the package that you sold us here in the U.S., we will buy it back,” he said. “But we don’t have the understanding they had.”
A group of Turkish defense contractors met with Russia earlier this week to discuss ways to change the deal in their favor. But Erdogan said on Friday that he sees no need to try to change the agreement now that the groundwork was laid.
“The most favorable situation right now is no transition from one system to another system, there is an agreement with Russia,” he said. “We should continue this path.”
Turkey has already been working with Russian defense officials to build defense networks on Turkish soil. Last month, Russia announced that it was setting up air control stations in Turkey to synchronize Turkish and Russian air traffic.
Read the full story at The Wall Street Journal.
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