President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey still intended to buy a second batch of S-400 missile defense systems from Russia, a move that could deepen a rift with NATO ally Washington and trigger fresh US sanctions.
Washington says the S-400s pose a threat to its F-35 fighter jets and to NATO’s broader defense systems. Turkey says it was unable to procure air defense systems from any NATO ally on satisfactory terms.
“In the future, nobody will be able to interfere in terms of what kind of defense systems we acquire, from which country at what level,” Erdogan said in an interview aired on Face the Nation with Margaret Brennan at CBS News on Sunday.
“Nobody can interfere with that. We are the only ones to make such decisions.”
The US imposed sanctions on Turkey’s defense Industry Directorate, its chief Ismail Demir and three other employees in December following the country’s acquisition of a first batch of S-400s.
Talks continued between Russia and Turkey about the delivery of a second batch, which Washington has repeatedly said would almost certainly trigger new sanctions.
Erdogan will visit Russia next week to meet President Vladimir Putin to discuss issues including the violence in northwestern Syria. [Reuters]