Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that he had told his US counterpart Donald Trump it was impossible for Turkey to abandon the purchase of the S-400 missile systems from Russia.
"We explained to Trump that Turkey won’t back down as far as the S-400 systems are concerned. I told Trump how Turkey had come to the decision to buy the S-400 systems and he recognized our right to do it," the Turkish leader said in a speech in Ankara, broadcast by the NTV channel, TASS reports.
According to Erdogan, he also pointed out at his meeting with Trump that "if disagreements [with the US] on the F-35 delivery persist, then Turkey will have to turn to others to fulfill its needs."
In September 2017, Erdogan announced that Ankara had signed a contract with Moscow on purchasing the S-400 systems and made an advance payment. Head of Russia’s Rostec state corporation Sergei Chemezov said in December 2017 that the deal was worth $2.5 bln. The first stage of the delivery process took place in July 2019.
The United States and NATO actively oppose Turkey’s purchase of the S-400 systems. On July 17, a White House press secretary issued a written statement saying "Turkey’s decision to purchase Russian S-400 air defense systems renders its continued involvement with the F-35 impossible." "The F-35 cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced capabilities," the statement specified.
The S-400 Triumf (NATO reporting name: SA-21 Growler) is the most advanced long-range anti-aircraft missile system that went into service in 2007. It is designed to destroy aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles, including medium-range ones, and can also be used against ground objectives. The S-400 system can engage targets at a distance of 400 km and at an altitude of up to 35 km.