Erdogan Rejects the Idea of Handing Russia's S-400s Over to Ukraine: 'Matter is Closed'
09:17 GMT 25.03.2022 (Updated: 10:34 GMT 25.03.2022)
A number of media outlets previously reported that Washington had asked Ankara to deliver Russian-made S-400 missile defence systems to Kiev in order to help Ukrainian forces fight Russian troops amid Moscow's ongoing special operation.
The matter of S-400 deliveries to Ukraine is closed, since the missile systems are Turkey's property and ensure the country's security, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.
"The head of the Communications Department of the Turkish presidential Administration [Fahrettin Altun] has already given the necessary response with all sensitivity... For them, this answer is enough, there is no need for anything more. Because all their work is limited to is creating a mess. They wonder 'what other blow can we deal to Turkey in order to create problems for it?' We interfere in these processes immediately, and they fail to achieve results," Hürriyet newspaper quoted Erdogan as saying on Friday.
The Turkish president was referring to a Wall Street Journal op-ed penned by Fahrettin Altun, the head of the Communications Department of the Turkish presidential Administration, who reckoned that the idea of handing over the air defence systems Ankara purchased from Russia to Ukraine was "unrealistic".
"Though quite unrealistic today, this idea presents an opportunity to discuss the problems Turkey has experienced lately with the West," Altun wrote in response to a Reuters report suggesting that Washington had informally discussed with Turkey the possibility of sending Russian S-400s to Kiev.
Instead, Altun argued that the West should supply Turkey with F-35 fighter jets and Patriot missile systems without preconditions to help mend ties.
Aside from clarifying his stance on the S-400 idea, Erdogan told reporters that he was planning to talk to his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, at the end of the week in order to discuss the outcome of the NATO summit in Brussels held this week. The Turkish president made it clear that Ankara will not be joining its NATO allies in imposing sanctions against Moscow, especially when it comes to the energy needs.
"You know, I explained this a long time ago. Today, if we consider only natural gas, we get about half of the natural gas we consume from Russia," he said, also recalling the construction of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant jointly with Russia. “We cannot leave this aside. When I say this to (French President Emmanuel) Macron, he answers: 'You are right.' So there is nothing to be done. We must be sensitive in this matter. Firstly, I cannot leave my people in the cold in winter. Secondly, I cannot completely restart our industry. We must protect them. We are a state, we have 85 million people. We fulfill all the obligations," Erdogan said.
"We are also evaluating certain UN lines in terms of sanctions, but let's not forget that we cannot put aside our relations with Russia," the Turkish leader told reporters on the plane upon his return from Brussels.
"There are discussions about carrying out transactions in rubles, that is, in their own national currency. We have already proposed this to Russia, we have said that it is possible to do this in rubles and Turkish lira. Now we are completely proven right, and they say that they can do it," Hurriyet quoted Erdogan as saying on Friday.
Last week, Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said that even though Turkey understood the position of its allies regarding Russia, Ankara believed it should maintain an open line of communication with Moscow.
"If everyone burns bridges with Russia, who will talk to them?" Kalin told Turkey's Star newspaper, adding that Turkey should "try to understand Moscow's security concerns."
On 23 March, President Vladimir Putin said that Russia will be transferring payments for gas supplies to "unfriendly countries" into rubles, pointing out that it makes no sense to supply Russian goods to the EU and the US and receive payment in their currency. Putin instructed the Central Bank and the Cabinet of Ministers to determine the procedure for transactions with Europe in rubles within a week. At the same time, he said that Russia would continue to supply gas in volumes and at prices fixed in earlier contracts, as the country values its reputation.
A number of Western countries introduced several batches of sanctions against Russia over its military operation in Ukraine. Even though Moscow admitted that the sanctions are quite crippling, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stressed that Russia had been preparing for them in advance. President Putin said that the policy of containing and weakening Russia is a long-term strategy of the West, and sanctions have dealt a serious blow to the entire global economy.
Putin also said that the United States and the European Union had effectively defaulted on their obligations to Russia, freezing its foreign exchange reserves. He added that current events draw a line under the global dominance of the West in both politics and economics.
Russia launched a special military operation to demilitarise and 'de-Nazify' Ukraine on 24 February in order to protect the Donbass population. Putin stressed that he made the tough decision after the newly recognised Donetsk and Lugansk republics appealed for help.