Turkey’s Erdoğan sees Russian S-400s delivery to begin in July
Turkey expects delivery Russian S-400 missile defence systems to begin in the first half of July, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Sunday.
"We discussed the S-400 subject with Russia. Indeed the S-400 issue is settled," pro-government Habertürk news site quoted Erdoğan as telling reporters on his plane returning from a visit to Tajikistan, following a summit where he met his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
"I think they will start to come in the first half of July," Erdoğan added.
Ankara’s planned purchase of the S-400s, which are not compatible with NATO systems, has been fuelling tensions between Ankara and Washington.
The United States and its NATO allies see it as incompatible with NATO systems and posing a security threat to the F-35 stealth fighter.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Sunday reiterated that Turkey absolutely will not accept any U.S. impositions on the S-400 deal.
Çavuşoglu, who last week said that NATO can only protect 30 percent of Turkey’s airspace, called the deal “a national cause.”
U.S. acting Secretary of Defence Patrick Shanahan this month detailed Ankara would be pulled out of the F-35 fighter jet programme unless it changed course on its planned purchase of the missile systems, giving Turkey a deadline of July 31.
The Turkish president stressed he would have detailed discussion on the issue with U.S. counterpart Donald Trump when they meet at the G-20 summit this month.
"When someone lower down says different things, then we immediately make contact with Mr Trump and try to solve issues with telephone diplomacy. Matters don't take long there," he said.
The Turkish president on Thursday vowed to seek answers to Ankara’s exclusion from F-35 programme for what he called ‘’reasons that have no rational or legitimate basis."
Turkey has paid $1.250 billion for the programme, Turkey’s strongman indicated.
Erdoğan last week said there was no going back from the S-400 deal and government officials have repeatedly stated it is a done deal.