Turkey needs S-400, will not abandon system, says foreign minister

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Wednesday that Turkey needed the S-400 missile system, adding that Ankara did not intend to comply with U.S. requirements to abandon the Russian batteries.

Turkey has been forced to purchase the system from Russia since the United States refused to sell its Patriot missile system to the country, which does not produce its own, Bloomberg Turkish reported Çavuşoğlu as saying.

The Turkish foreign minister’s comments arrive a day after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed concern about reports that the Turkish military had begun testing the system in Ankara.

"We have different opinions but we can continue to talk," Çavuşoğlu said, referring the United States. "We proposed the United States establish a working group led by NATO, but the United States rejected our offer,’’ he added.

Çavuşoğlu also said the S-400 battery is not enough and Turkey needs new and additional air defence systems.

The United States has threatened Turkey with sanctions and suspended the country from the programme to build and operate F-35 stealth fighter jets in July when the first components of the S-400 system began arriving at an air base near Ankara. 

Turkey has not yet deployed the S-400s, but U.S. officials say that were they used alongside NATO aircraft it would allow Russia to garner sensitive data on the aircraft’s defences.