US 'blackmails' Turkey into scrapping S-400 deal with Russia: Minister
Iran Press TV
Thu Jun 14, 2018 09:11PM
Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli has slammed as "blackmail" Washington's pressure on Ankara to scrap its finalized deal to with Russia to purchase the S-400 air defense missile systems.
"Such a demand goes beyond any permissible norms of diplomacy and trade relations. The fulfillment of this demand is unacceptable. The situation can be characterized as blackmail," Turkey's Anadolu news agency quoted Canikli (pictured below) as saying on Thursday.
According to the Defense News web portal, US Deputy Secretary of Defense Thomas Goffus told a panel at the Washington-based Atlantic Council think-tank on Wednesday that Turkey's plan to buy S-400 missiles "is not helpful" and that Washington's "preference is that they do not acquire S-400."
The S-400 system, whose full name is the Triumf Mobile Multiple Anti-Aircraft Missile System (AAMS), is an advanced Russian missile system designed to detect, track, and destroy planes, drones, or missiles as far as 402 kilometers away. It has previously been sold only to China and India.
On April 3, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin said in Ankara that they had agreed to expedite the delivery of S-400 missile systems. The delivery is expected to start between late 2019 and early 2020.
The United States has repeatedly warned Turkey against the consequences of its decision to buy the S-400 missile batteries from Russia, saying Washington could slap Ankara with sanctions over such a purchase.
Turkey is striving to boost its air defense, particularly after Washington decided in 2015 to withdraw its Patriot surface-to-air missile system from Turkey's border with Syria, a move that weakened Turkey's air defense.
Before gravitating towards Russia, the Turkish military reportedly walked out of a $3.4 billion contract for a similar Chinese system. The withdrawal took place under purported pressure from Washington.
Ankara's ties with its Western allies in NATO have been strained over a range of issues. Erdogan has been critical of the US for supporting Kurdish groups in Syria that he says are responsible for terror attacks inside Turkey and also slammed Washington's refusal to hand over Fethullah Gulen, a powerful Turkish opposition figure living in the US.
Erdogan said on Thursday that he has offered Putin for Ankara and Moscow to jointly produce a new generation of S-500 high-altitude missile defense systems, but he did not mention the Russian president's response to the idea or when exactly it had been raised.
Turkey's official Anadolu news agency quoted Erdogan as saying that Moscow had given Ankara a loan to purchase the S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems on "very acceptable terms."
"During the second and third stages, we will proceed to the joint production of the S-500 systems," Erdogan said.
In February, then-Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Rogozin told the Kommersant daily newspaper that the production of truck-mounted S-500 and S-400 systems was already underway in the western region of Nizhny Novgorod.
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