Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters on Wednesday that Ankara will use the Russian-made S-400 missile systems in the event of a possible attack against Turkey.
“Some wonder why we are buying [the S-400s] and making such an investment. If necessary, we will have the right to use them. If someone attacks us, we will use these missile systems, which is why we are making such an investment”, the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet quoted Erdogan as saying.
He also confirmed Turkey’s readiness to take part in joint production of the S-400 systems.
"As far as the joint production is concerned, we don’t have any problems with Russia. At the very beginning of our negotiations with [Russian] President Putin, we clinched an agreement on the matter. I hope that we will start joint production because there are no problems at the moment”, Erdogan said, referring to “various speculations” by those who want Turkey to abandon the S-400 deal.
“There are [specific] dates agreed with Russia, but do not make me name them, this is not correct”, Erdogan said. Last month, he confirmed that “Turkey has already bought S-400 defence systems”, describing the purchase agreement as a “done deal”.
Ankara and Washington have been at odds for months over Turkey’s drive to buy the S-400s, which the US claims is not compatible with NATO military equipment standards and poses a threat to the F-35 fighter jets.
Washington has threatened to slap sanctions on Ankara under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) and take back Ankara's F-35 fighter jets if the Turkish government receives the delivery of the Russian missile defence systems.
The US gave Turkey until the end of July to scrap the S-400 deal or see an agreement for the purchase of the US F-35s cancelled.
Ankara has repeatedly emphasised that the Russian missile defence network is not connected to the security of NATO, the US or the F-35 programme, and that the decision to acquire the S-400 “does not target a third country”.
Russia and Turkey inked a $2.5 billion agreement on the sale of four batteries of the S-400s to Turkey in December 2017, which was followed by the US clearing a $3.5 billion Patriot missile deal for the country. Ankara has indicated that it might still buy Patriots, but not in place of the S-400s.