Turkey will not be integrating the Russian S-400 air defence systems with NATO's defence grid when the country obtains them in July 2019, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters during his visit to Riga, Latvia.
"The Russian complexes will be fully under our control. They will not be integrated into NATO's air defence system", he said.
The US has been pressuring Turkey to abandon its S-400 purchase from Russia, claiming that the air defence system would be incompatible with NATO systems and pose a threat to the F-35, as it could reveal the jet's weaknesses to Moscow. Ankara, in turn, has insisted on keeping the deal and even made an offer to create a joint committee to ensure Turkey's safe usage of the S-400s and F-35s — which the US ignored.
Instead, Washington has frozen the supply of F-35 parts to Turkey and threatened the country with sanctions and even exclusion from NATO if Ankara doesn't backtrack on the S-400 purchase. The US has reportedly also started looking for options to replace Turkey as an exclusive producer of certain of F-35 parts. Despite the pressure, Ankara has insisted that the delivery of the S-400s will be fulfilled on time in July 2019.
The spat around the S-400 acquisition has significantly worsened relations between Ankara and Washington, which were previously overshadowed by disagreements over Syria. Namely, Turkey has called on the US to stop supporting Syrian Kurdish militants, allegedly connected to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is deemed to be a terrorist organisation by Ankara. Washington, in turn, has called on Turkey to cease its military activities in Syria east of the Euphrates that could endanger US-supported militants.