Turkey denies it invited U.S. experts to examine S-400s - TASS

Turkey has no intention of letting the United States examine the S-400 air defence systems it is purchasing from Russia, a source at the Turkish Foreign Ministry told Russian state-run news agency TASS on Thursday.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu gave assurance on Wednesday to Alexei Yerkhov, Russia’s ambassador to Ankara, that reports in the foreign media that Turkey had invited the United States to examine the S-400 system were not true, the source told TASS.

Another official in the Turkish Foreign Ministry earlier said that Ankara would operate the S-400s separately from NATO systems, TASS reported. The assurances to Russia were given following a Bloomberg report claiming that Turkey had invited technical experts from the United States to inspect the S-400s to help allay U.S. concerns about the purchase.

Turkey signed a contract worth a reported $2.5 billion in December 2017 for the purchase of the S-400s despite objections from its NATO allies, who are concerned that the system could collect data on NATO jets and undermine their defences.

The U.S. Congress passed legislation this year to block the sale of F-35 advanced fighter jets to Turkey should the Turkish government take delivery of the Russian missiles.

The U.S. State Department this month approved the sale of a $3.5 billion Patriot missile defence system to Turkey. 

Two Turkish government officials familiar with the country’s defence policy told Bloomberg last week that Turkey would proceed with the S-400 purchases even if the U.S. decided to sell the Patriot batteries.  

While the Turkish government plans to purchase both American and Russian made systems, some analysts maintain that Turkey could not buy two competing systems from the United States and Russia simultaneously.