Turkey’s purchase of Russian-made S-400 air defence missiles and U.S.-made F-35 stealth fighter jets are two different issues and the government will make its decision according to its best interests, the Turkish under-secretary for the defence industry, Ismail Demir, told Russian reporters on Thursday, Russian news website Sputnik reported.
The comments came in apparent response to U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Wess Mitchell who told to the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week that Turkey’s purchase of the S-400 missile system might adversely its affect participation in the F-35 programme.
“As for the statements made by the U.S., this is the case of the presidents of two serious countries (Russia and Turkey) signing the agreement we are talking about. (S-400 and F-35) are two different things. We are partners with the U.S. on the F-35 and we will continue our cooperation on both tracks. We are a sovereign state and we make decisions, which are in the best interests of our country,” Demir said at the Eurasia Airshow in the southern Turkish city of Antalya.
Demir said the delivery of the S-400s was progressing according to plan and the first batch would arrive in Turkey in July 2019.
U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison on Thursday told German state broadcaster Deutsche Welle’s Turkish language site that Turkey should be aware of the serious consequences entailed by the purchase of equipment from Russia.
“Our comprehensive collaboration model with Turkey, with whom we run diverse operations involving aircraft and a great many personnel, will be impacted in the event that it possesses a defence system from Russia, which is not a member of NATO,” she said.