ANKARA --- There is no harm in Turkey’s missile defense system purchase from Russia, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said in response to U.S. top general’s concerns over the issue, adding that the two countries have already signed a deal for the delivery of the S-400 missiles.
“Why will it cause tension? A country should be in search for the ideal ways for its own security,” he said, addressing the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmakers in parliament on July 25.
Greece is a NATO member and has been using Russian-made S-300 systems for years, the president said.
“We have now taken steps with Russia about this issue. Deals have been inked. In God’s will, we will see S-400 missiles in our country and precede the process with joint production,” he said.
Turkey was not able to cooperate with the U.S. over the missile system, the president noted, adding that this was why Turkey was seeking alternatives.
Erdoğan’s remarks came days after U.S. Gen. Joseph Dunford, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff chair, claimed that Turkey and Russia could not agree on the procurement of the missile defense system.
“It would be a concern, were they to do that, but they have not done that,” Dunford reportedly said at a security forum in Aspen, Colorado on July 23, when asked about media reports on Turkey purchasing the Russian system.
The U.S. general called the reports “incorrect.”
However, his remarks contradicted with former statements by Turkish and Russian officials.
Turkey will cooperate with France and Italy on developing a national missile defense system project, Deputy Prime Minister Fikri Işık said on July 4, when he was the defense minister, adding that the focus was on the “development of systems” rather than purchasing.
However, the country will meet its immediate demands by buying S-400 systems from Russia, he said, adding that “All technical work is completed.”
Russian presidential aide Vladimir Kozhin said late June that Moscow and Ankara had agreed on the delivery of the S-400 mobile systems but that the Kremlin had not approved a loan for the deal.
The S-400 system was introduced in 2007 and can carry three types of missiles capable of destroying ground and air targets, including ballistic and cruise missiles.
It can track and engage up to 300 targets simultaneously and has an altitude ceiling of 27 kilometers.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Turkey is procuring the S-400 to meet its shorter-term requirements. Over the longer term, however, the government wants to develop its own air-defense and anti-missile system, and on July 14 in Ankara signed an agreement with the France-based Eurosam group to launch a two-year definition phase for this new system.)