'Washington Has No Idea About Who It Deals With': Erdogan Brushes Off US Criticism Over S-400
Oleg Burunov. Sputnik International
13:16 GMT 25.10.2020(updated 14:05 GMT 25.10.2020)
On Saturday, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar stated that the country's military is checking its S-400 air defence systems and preparing them for deployment.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made it clear once again that Ankara does not intend to abandon the S-400 missile systems purchased from Russia.
"The United States does not know who it is dealing with. You told us to send the S-400s back to Russia. But we are not a tribal state, we are Turkey", Erdogan told a meeting in the city of Malatya on Sunday.
In an apparent jab at Washington, the Turkish president also suggested that the US should slap sanctions on Ankara, a move that the White House has repeatedly pledged to make with regard to Turkey.
"Whatever the sanctions will be, do not be late, introduce them", Erdogan said, recalling that even though Turkey "paid money for [the US fifth-generation fighter] F-35, Washington never supplied the warplanes to Ankara".
The statement comes a day after Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said that the Turkish military is checking its S-400 air defence systems and preparing them for deployment, adding that "the purchase and planned check-ups of the S-400s do not mean that the country is alienating itself from NATO".
He stressed that the purchase of the Russian-made missile systems does not violate Turkey's obligations as a member of the alliance and asked NATO to point out an alternative to the air defence system, instead of criticising the deal.
Earlier this week, Akar confirmed that Turkey had conducted tests of the air defence systems in Sinop, noting that the drills were scheduled in accordance with the contract.
This followed Erdogan stating that Turkey will not hold any consultations with the United States regarding tests of the S-400s, adding, "the tests have been carried out and they are being carried out".
"The approach of the US is not binding for us in any way because how can we not test the means that we have? Of course, we are not going to consult with the US on that. Not only for the S-400, but also many other heavy and light weapons", he underlined.
Moscow and Ankara signed a loan agreement on the delivery of S-400 systems in December 2017, and two years later, Turkey received several S-400 batteries worth $2.5 billion.
Washington has been opposing the agreement and demanded that Turkey ditch the S-400s and purchase US Patriot systems instead.
The US also threatened to delay or even cancel the sale of F-35 fighters to Turkey and slap sanctions on Ankara, claiming that the Russian systems are incompatible with NATO standards and pose security concerns.
Both Ankara and Moscow dismissed the allegations and continued negotiations on an additional batch of S-400s.
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