Turkey, Saudi Ara­bia on path to Rus­sian S-400 pur­chases

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - REGION -

IS­TAN­BUL/MOSCOW: Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan said there was no prob­lem with Turkey’s planned pur­chase of Rus­sian S-400 sur­face-to-air mis­sile sys­tems and talks have also been held on the S500 sys­tem, Haber­turk and other news­pa­pers re­ported Fri­day.

The In­ter­fax news agency mean­while cited an aide to Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin as say­ing Rus­sia and Saudi Ara­bia are on track to sign a con­tract on sup­plies of the ad­vanced S-400. “The talks are on­go­ing now, the terms are be­ing agreed,” the agency cited Vladimir Kozhin as say­ing. He said the con­tract could be signed “in the near­est time,” giv­ing no fur­ther de­tail.

Turk­ish For­eign Min­is­ter Mev­lut Cavu­soglu was quoted Mon­day as say­ing NATO mem­ber Turkey could seek a deal to ac­quire a mis­sile

Ankara’s de­ci­sion has been seen by some as a snub to NATO

de­fense sys­tem with another coun­try if Rus­sia does not agree to joint pro­duc­tion of the de­fense shield.

Speak­ing to re­porters as he re­turned on his plane from a trip to Ukraine and Ser­bia, Er­do­gan said there would be no joint pro­duc­tion in the first stage of S-400 pur­chases, but in the sec­ond stage “God will­ing we will take joint pro­duc­tion steps,” Haber­turk re­ported.

“In our talks with Putin we are not think­ing of stop­ping with the S-400s. We have had talks on the S-500s too,” he added, re­fer­ring to a mis­sile sys­tem cur­rently un­der de­vel­op­ment.

Ankara’s de­ci­sion to buy the S400s has been seen in some West­ern cap­i­tals as a snub to NATO, given ten­sions with Moscow over Ukraine and Syria, while the deal raised con­cern be­cause the weapons can­not be in­te­grated into the al­liance’s de­fenses.

Such weapons are de­signed to pro­tect bat­tle­fields and strate­gic sites such as air­ports and sea ports against air­borne threats, in­clud­ing cruise mis­siles and air­craft.

NATO Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Jens Stoltenberg­saidthisweekTurkey­was not seek­ing to an­tag­o­nize the U.S.-led al­liance by pur­chas­ing the sys­tem and is in talks with France and Italy to buy sim­i­lar weapons. Stoltenberg did not give more de­tails but said Turkey was fa­mil­iar with the so-called SAMP-T mis­siles. –

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