Turkey has issued a veiled threat to purchase more S-400 Air Defence Systems (ADS) from Russia if denied the US-made Patriot or any other ADS made by its NATO allies.
“If our allies can provide - it does not have to be only Patriot from the United States, it can also be a SAMP/T of Eurosam, or any similar system from other allies - and we prefer to purchase from our allies. If not, I have to seek alternatives," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday during an online seminar organized by the Washington-based Atlantic Council.
Justifying the reasons for buying the S-400 ADS from Russia, Cavusoglu said; "What I am trying to say is that we had to buy the S-400 ADS just because we could not purchase those kind of system from our allies for last 10 years. Clearly indicating that Turkey was looking to increase its ADS inventory, the foreign minister remarked, “in the future we need more air defense systems.”
"Turkey’s decision to purchase the S-400 system is a result of US reluctance to meet our urgent needs for many years, for 10 years. And this is also acknowledged by President [Donald] Trump," the Turkish minister said.
"We are ready to purchase Patriot systems if we have a good offer. And our stance on the resolution of the S-400 issue has not changed. We offer the US to establish a technical working group with NATO’s inclusion, and NATO can lead this technical working group actually. And this offer is still on the table," Cavusoglu continued.
He assured that "Turkey will never put the integrity of the NATO defense system at risk. This also includes the F-35 program, of which Turkey is a founding partner for which his country had already allocated $1.35 billion.”
Turkey was excluded from the F-35 program following its failure to bow before a US diktat to abandon to the S-400 deal with Russia. Two F-35 jets meant for delivery to Turkey have been forfeited by the US and pilots and crew sent for training to the US asked to leave.
Turkey is also upset that the US did not heed its request to provide Patriot ADS cover during its operation in Syria’s Idlib where it feared ballistic missiles from Syria raining on its cities. “The ballistic threat that Turkey faces is real," Cavusoglu said during the conversation.
Voicing his displeasure without naming the United States, the Turkish minister said, "first of all, it is not appropriate to put preconditions when an ally is in need, an urgent need, like what happened in Idlib. Turkey needed the support of NATO, and also of allies, member states. And we need advanced missile and air defense systems to protect our people.”
In 2017, Ankara had ordered a regiment set of S-400 ADS comprising two battalions, the first of which has already been delivered. The deal also envisages partial transfer of technology to the Turkish side. Ankara plans to manufacture some of the parts that go into the S-400 in its factories.