Turkey negotiating with Russia over S-400 air defense systems

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Russian S-400 air defence missile systems roll at Red Square during the Victory Day military parade in Moscow on May 9, 2016. Russia marks the 71st anniversary of the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany in World War II. / AFP PHOTO / KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV

Turkey and Russia have started talks for the purchase of S-400 air defense systems, the pro-government Yeni Şafak daily reported on Wednesday.

According to the report, following a meeting between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian leader Vladimir Putin, Ankara started to negotiate once again with Moscow, which had been eliminated in an air defense system tender due to its high price. If they agree on the purchase, Turkey and Russia will cooperate on the production of a new system as well.

Government sources speaking with the daily said that Turkey is interested in the newest version of the S-400 instead of the S-300 or Antey-2500 models. Due to the urgent needs of Turkey, the timetable for the purchase is an important part of the negotiations, the report said.

Turkey is in talks with Russia on the potential purchase of S-400 air missile defense systems, Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Işık had said in September, adding that Ankara was also in contact with other countries on missile defense.

After canceling a $3.4 billion tender for a long-range missile defense system in 2015, Turkey said it planned to develop its own. But earlier in September, a top defense official said Turkey could consider procuring one.

Since Turkey is a NATO ally, it remains to be seen whether such cooperation could lead to a crisis in Turkey’s relations with the Alliance, which was originally established to contain the Russian threat.

Turkey had considered purchasing missile systems from China in the last couple of years but retreated from the decision due to the incompatibility of China’s system with that of NATO.

Turkish-Russian relations went sour after Turkey downed a Russian jet over the Syrian-Turkish border in November 2015. Turkish President Erdoğan apologized to Russian President Putin in June 2016 to mend fences after Russia imposed sanctions on Turkey.

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