Turkey will activate Russian S-400 missile systems, defence minister says
Turkey's Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said in an interview with broadcaster CNN Türk on Thursday Turkey would activate the Russian S-400 missile systems, T24 reported.
"We have received S-400s, we brought them to Turkey, the installation and training process continues. Our operations will continue as planned. The installation will take place in the spring," Akar said.
Turkey received its first shipment of S-400s in July, prompting Washington to suspend it from the F-35 fighter jet programme, halt its order of 100 of the new-generation jets, and begin procedures to sanction the country under a 2017 legislation designed to discourage countries from arms deals with Russia.
Washington says the presence of Russian systems on NATO-allied territory could leave the F-35 jets open to subterfuge.
"Should we not take measures when there is a threat to our country? Turkey is a sovereign and independent country, and everyone must see it that way," Akar said.
Turkey has rejected a U.S. proposal to deliver one Patriot missile defence system by the end of 2019, which was conditional on Ankara cancelling the purchase of Russian S-400 missile systems.
"If there were positive developments and constructive approaches in the talks at the beginning, of course, we would have bought Patriots. We still need additional air defence systems, our Patriot negotiations continue," the defence minister said.
Akar also said The United States could support Turkey militarily amid escalated tensions in Syria's last rebel-held province of Idlib by deploying Patriot batteries on its border.