May 18 2019

Russia says Turkey’s Erdoğan guarantees implementation of S-400 contract - TASS

The speaker of Russia’s Federation Council upper parliament house said on Friday that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had pledged that the contract with Moscow over the purchase of S-400 missile systems would be implemented, Russia’s TASS news agency reported on Friday. 

Washington has increased pressure on Turkey in the last couple of months over Ankara’s plans to purchase Russian systems, which the United States and Turkey’s other NATO allies say are incompatible with NATO systems and posing a security threat to the F-35 stealth fighter. 

The United States in April froze a joint F-35 manufacturing program with Turkey, while a bipartisan U.S. House bill submitted this week called for the termination of Turkey's participation in F-35 production and a halt to the delivery of F-35 aircraft to Turkey should Ankara goes ahead with its planned Russian S-400 purchase.

Valentina Matviyenko said Erdoğan gave assurance on the implementation of the contract, following talks with Turkey’s leader in Istanbul, TASS said. 

"Naturally, he dwelt on the topic of the S-400 systems. He said that unprecedented pressure has been exerted on Turkey and it is still continued but reassured that he, as the president, guarantee that Turkey will implement the contract,” TASS quoted Matviyenko as saying. 

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Friday that Turkey was fulfilling its commitments for both S-400 air defence system and F-35 fighter jets, Anadolu Agency reported. 

“On the issues of both S-400 and F-35, we are showing efforts to completely fulfil whatever our commitments and responsibilities are without flaws,” Akar said during his visit to an airbase in eastern Malatya province where Turkey plans to deploy F-35 jets.

The U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said on Thursday that it was not possible for the United States to deliver F-35 jets to a country that possessed Russian missiles. "We're continuing to train the Turkish pilots at Luke Air Force Base, but we don't think that we can deliver those aircraft into a country that has the S-400," Wilson said, referring to Turkey’s plan to buy 100 F-35As and dozens of F-35Bs.

Reuters reported on Monday that Washington had asked Ankara to delay taking delivery of the S-400 system, in return for potentially approving the formation of the working group proposed by Turkey.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Wednesday that a delay in delivery was not on Ankara’s agenda. “Why should we talk about a delay? It’s a done deal,” Turkey’s top diplomat told reporters in Ankara.