Turkish FM: S-400 missile defense system deal may be signed this week

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (R) shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin during an official welcoming ceremony at the Presidential Complex in Ankara on December 11, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / TURKISH PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE /

Amid criticism from NATO allies, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavuşoğlu on Thursday said an agreement for the purchase of an S-400 missile defense system from Russia may be signed this week, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

“There is no problem with the S-400 system. The sides reached agreement on credit during the visit of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin. This needed to be documented and the details discussed. Our experts have been working on it. It will be signed when completed, maybe this week,” Çavuşoğlu said during a joint news conference with Maltese Minister for Foreign Affairs Carmelo Abela, in response to a question as to whether Russia had asked Ankara for an airbase in Turkey in return for providing the S-400 system.

Underlining that after the purchase of the S-400 missile defense system there will be a need for military and civilian technicians for their use, Çavuşoğlu said: “If Russian technicians and engineers are needed during the installation of the S-400s, they will come, work in Turkey and return. It does not mean that Russia will deploy troops [in Turkey] if those the engineers and technicians are military personnel. This is technical work.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced in September that Ankara had signed a deal with Russia to buy an S-400 missile defense system despite opposition from NATO allies. Erdoğan also criticized Turkey’s NATO allies for reacting negatively to Turkey’s decision to purchase the system from Russia and said they had gone crazy.

Pentagon spokesman Johnny Michael said the US had relayed its concerns to Turkish officials over the purchase. Michael said that a NATO inter-operable missile defense system was the best option for defending Turkey from the full range of threats in the region.

NATO also stated in September that Turkey had not informed the alliance of the details of its agreement to purchase an S-400 air defense system from Russia.

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