President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Tuesday that Turkey wants to continue defense industry cooperation with Russia, including on warplanes, following talks in Moscow with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, Reuters reported.
Erdoğan spoke after the leaders visited an air show outside the Russian capital where Sukhoi Su-57 stealth fighter jets performed demonstration flights and the Turkish leader inspected aircraft.
In another step that could further strain ties with NATO ally the United States, Turkey took delivery on Tuesday of a second batch of Russian S-400 air defense equipment.
“We are taking positive steps in the defense industry sector with the delivery of the S-400 systems starting,” Erdoğan said at a news conference alongside Putin.
“With that, in our meetings today we had the opportunity to discuss what steps we could take in various fields within the defense industry and what we could do,” he added.
The initial delivery of parts of the S-400s, which Washington says is not compatible with NATO defenses, arrived in Ankara in July despite warnings about possible US sanctions over the purchase.
Washington has not yet acted on the threat, but it did begin last month to remove Turkey from its program of manufacturing F-35 jets, which Turkey also planned to buy. In response, Erdoğan said Turkey would turn elsewhere for jets to meet its needs.
Putin said he and Erdoğan discussed cooperation on Russia’s Su-35 jet and possible joint work on the its new Su-57.
“In my opinion, a lot has drawn an interest from our Turkish partners, not only from a purchase point of view but also from joint production,” Putin said at the briefing.
Meanwhile, President Erdoğan said a Syrian government offensive in northwestern Syria is pushing Turkey to use its right to self-defense and that Ankara would take the necessary measures when needed.
Syrian troops have encircled rebels and a Turkish military post in northwest Syria in an offensive to reclaim territory and towns they lost early in the war.
The offensive by Syrian troops disrupted the calm in the Idlib region established by Turkey and Russia, Erdoğan said, adding that the attacks were unacceptable.