Erdoğan shrugs off US warning against purchase of Russian S-400 defense system

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan shrugged off US warnings against Ankara’s purchase of a Russian S-400 air defense system, Sputnik Turkish service reported.

“Now they say we should give up on purchasing Russian S-400s. Why should we? NATO officials explicitly said there would be no problem with this purchase,” Erdoğan said at a rally in Burdur province on Monday.

“Greece has had [Russian] S-300s [air defense systems] for years. Why don’t you tell them anything?” he added.

US Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison on Feb. 12 said the US was very concerned about a Russian missile defense system in an alliance country.

“The whole alliance is concerned about this, and we hope that Turkey will make the right decision and look for another system,” she told reporters.

Turkey finalized plans to buy the Russian system, called the S-400, last year, with the first delivery scheduled for October 2019.

A US delegation in January offered to sell Turkey US-made Patriot missiles.

Speaking at the rally, Erdoğan also said Turkey would initiate a military offensive in the Kurdish-held Syrian city of Manbij “at any cost.”

“We would like to conduct this operation with our ally,” he said referring to the US, which backed the Kurdish militia in northern Syria in fighting against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The US administration has repeatedly warned Turkey to avoid a clash with Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Manbij.

Ankara previously conducted two military offensives in the Kurdish-held regions of Syria.

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