Turkey's President Recept Tayyip Erdogan asserted his country was considering a second battery of S-400 in a move that will further strain relations with the United States.
“Nobody will be able to interfere in terms of what kind of defense systems we acquire, from which country, at what level,” Erdoğan told CBS News in New York this past week where he had gone to attend the UN General Assembly. “We are the only ones to make such decisions.”
On being asked if that meant a yes, Erdogan replied, “Of course, yes.”
Alexander Mikheev, General Director of Russia’s state arms exporter Rosoboronexport, reportedly told Russian state media on Monday that the consultations between Turkey and Russia on a new supply of the S-400s were at the “final stage.”
The U.S. has cancelled delivery of the first lot of F-35 fighter jets over the S-400 issue but continues to buy F-35 components from Turkish firms. It has also slapped sanctions under Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) against Turkey.
In March, Turkey’s defense industry chief said the country was not necessarily seeking to rejoin the jet program but rather had set a primary goal of compensation for losses.
Turkey has meanwhile extended a contract with a New York based law firm hired in 2020 to lobby Turkey's case with U.S. lawmakers. Ankara has earlier said it wants to remain in the F-35 program in which it supplies parts to Lockheed Martin and was to receive over 100 fighter jets over a period of time.
Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer’s $1.5 million contract for “strategic counsel and legal consultancy services” was disclosed on Sept. 20 and runs until August 2022, U.S. Justice Department records show. Turkey first hired the firm in February for six months to lobby for readmission to the fighter-jet modernization program after the Trump administration suspended the country’s participation.
The contract requires the firm to “advise on a strategy” for Turkey to “remain within the Joint Strike Fighter Program” while “taking into consideration and addressing the complex geopolitical and commercial factors at play.”
Arnold & Porter said it would “undertake a targeted outreach to the U.S. commercial partners and stakeholders” within the program to “sound out and understand their interests” in Turkey’s “continued involvement as a strategic ally and valued partner.”