Turkey looking at further defense cooperation with Russia, says Erdogan

Turkey looking at further defense cooperation with Russia, says Erdogan

Turkey is considering more joint defense industry steps with Russia including for fighter jets and submarines, President Tayyip Erdogan said after talks with President Vladimir Putin, despite a US warning of further sanctions. 

On the return flight to Turkey from the talks, Erdogan told reporters he also proposed working with Russia on construction of two more nuclear power plants, and Putin suggested developing platforms for space rocket launches, broadcaster NTV reported. 

NATO member Turkey’s 2019 purchase of Russian S-400 missile defense batteries prompted Washington to cancel the sale of US F-35 fighter jets and sanction Turkey’s defense industries. When Erdogan suggested last week that Turkey will buy more S-400s, Washington said Turkey could face further measures under US legislation penalizing countries that buy Russian arms. 

In his comments to journalists after Wednesday’s talks in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Erdogan did not mention further S-400 purchases but said Turkey would not back down and highlighted other possible defense projects with Russia. 

“We had the opportunity to discuss comprehensively what steps to take in the production of plane engines, what steps to take regarding fighter jets,” he said, adding that other measures could include building ships and submarines. 

Russia’s Rosatom is building a nuclear power plant in Akkuyu in southern Turkey, and Erdogan said he suggested that Russia collaborate on construction of two further planned plants. 

Erdogan said he would meet US President Joe Biden at the G20 in Rome next month, as well as at the United Nations’ climate summit in Glasgow, and would discuss the $1.4 billion which Turkey paid for the F-35 jets it can no longer buy. 

“We will discuss all relations including, military, political, economic, commercial,” he said. 

Last week Erdogan was quoted as saying on his return from a visit to New York that US-Turkish relations were not healthy and their current direction “does not bode well.” However, after commenting on his plans to meet Biden next month he said on his return from Sochi: “There are some steps being taken that bode well.” [Reuters]

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