Ankara has no intention of backing down on a deal with Russia for the S-400 missile defense system amid pressure from the United States, Turkey's Anadolou news agency reported on Tuesday.
“There is an agreement. We have determination. It is out of the question to take a step back,” Anadolou quoted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as telling reporters in Istanbul on Tuesday.
Washington objects to the deal amid concerns that the S-400 is incompatible with NATO systems but also that having Russian hardware deployed in NATO-member Turkey would allow Moscow access to sensitive defense intelligence concerning the alliance.
Erdogan argues that his country made several failed attempts to purchase the American-made Patriot system, adding that he would still be open to the option if “there is as positive an offer as Russia made.”
Washington has threatened Ankara with sanctions if it goes ahead with the Russian deal.
Bloomberg last week reported that Turkey is pondering the possibility of deploying the system along its southern coast, close to the area where it has military vessels accompanying drillships looking for natural gas deposits in the Eastern Mediterranean.