Ankara did not rule out on Monday the possibility of giving up a deal signed in September with Moscow to arm its forces with the Russian S-400 missiles system, after the issue created controversy with Washington and other NATO allies.
In an interview with local Turkish newspaper Aksam, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said his country might give up the purchase of Russia’s S-400 air defense missile systems if no agreement was reached on their joint production.
“If Russia doesn’t want to comply, we’ll make an agreement with another country. But we haven’t gotten any official negative replies (from Russia),” he said.
The Turkish minister said that Ankara needs to purchase the S-400 urgently.
“We need them. We have to protect our airspace. But if some anti-Russia-minded countries do not want Turkey to purchase S-400 from it, then they must provide their alternative," Cavusoglu said.
After signing the deal in September, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had asked his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to speed up the delivery of the advanced air defense system and to start its deployment to allow Turkish soldiers be trained on their use.
Also last month, Russia’s Undersecretary for Defense Industries İsmail Demir has said that his country may start the delivery of its S-400 air defense system to Turkey as early as within the next two years.
Russia’s S-400 is the latest long-range anti-aircraft missile system that went into service in 2007.
Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that Russia and Turkey are continuing negotiations on the deliveries of S-400 long-range air defense missile systems.
"I can say that the contacts and negotiations are continuing at the expert level in the context of this deal," he said.