Turkey determined to purchase Russian S-400 missiles, says Kremlin

Turkey is pushing ahead with its purchase of Russian S-400 air defence missiles despite pressure from the United States, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Turkish newspaper Hürriyet on Monday.

"Turkey has already decided, and we are acting accordingly. All the contracts are made, commitments are made, credits are supplied, and payments are made. The U.S. is frequently trying to get superior competition rights for itself through legal or extra-legal means. In other words, the economy is behind everything. The U.S. talks about sanctions. Why? So that everyone can buy their products. The same pressure is now being put on Turkey. Only a handful of countries can show resilience. Turkey is one of them," Peskov told the newspaper.

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

The United States has called on Turkey to halt the purchase of the missiles with the U.S. Congress passing legislation last year to block the sale of F-35 advanced fighter jets to Turkey should the Turkish government take delivery of the Russian missiles.

But Ankara has repeatedly stated that it plans to go ahead with the purchase in what is seen as a great step forward in Russian-Turkish relations.

The United States set Feb. 15 as an informal deadline for the Turkish government to respond to a rival U.S. offer regarding a $3.5-billion sale of Patriot air defence batteries to Turkey.

A U.S. delegation that visited Ankara last month reportedly said the cancellation of the S-400 deal was a prerequisite for the purchase of U.S. system.

Peskov also stated that attacks from Idlib to the Syrian regime continues but "it is very clear that it is Turkey's job to stop these attacks. We surely understand the current difficulties but a solution has to be found for this."

The Kremlin spokesman also talked about Turkey's "safe zone" proposal and made another reference to Adana Agreement as a way to deal with problems on the border with Syria. The Syrian government pledged to prohibit on Syrian soil the activities of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) , which has been fighting for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey since 1984, as part of the agreement. Turkey recognises the Syrian Kurdish People Protection Units (YPG) as an extension of PKK and therefore considers it a terrorist organisation. Contrary to the PKK, no other country in the world agrees with the Turkish government in this recognition. 

"Turkey now says 'I will create a safe zone' and 'there will be a special arrangement'. And we say to this proposal 'why do we need this.' Because there is already an agreement signed in 1998 between Turkey and Syria. According to this, it is legal for Turkey to conduct cross-border operations. So, there is already a lawful arrangement out there and we do not need another special agreement," Peskov added.

According to the Adana Agreement, the Turkish forces can go after those elements perceived as a national security threat within 5 kilometer inside Syria. However, Turkey wants to create a new safe zone within Syria's northeastern part as deep as 25 to 30 kilometers and over 400 kilometers border line all the way to the Iraqi border. 

According to Russia's Sputnik Turkish, Peskov also recommended the Turkish leadership to talk to the Assad regime directly, because "whether one likes him or not he is the legitimate leader of the Syrian regime."

Peskov also discussed the situation about Venezuelan leader Maduro and said, "Now they say that Maduro is a bad person and they want to replace him with someone else. What happens if they they they do not want Erdoğan or Putin tomorrow? Who has a right to make this decision?"

According to Peskov, Erdoğan is one of the leaders that Putin trusts the most and "they understand each other very well."

The Russian spokesman also noted that an important part of his life issues are related to Turkey.

"I spent about 10 years of my life in Turkey," he said.