Turkey will purchase new Russian missile defenses despite US opposition, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in an interview with CBS News posted on the US network’s website.
The US has urged Turkey not to go ahead with the delivery of Russian S-400 missiles and jettison the battery it already acquired, even as Ankara engages in talks with Moscow over the delivery of a second system.
Turkey and Russia have been negotiating over technology transfers and local production ahead of a potential purchase of a second system. Turkey acquired the first battery in 2019.
The US has imposed sanctions on Turkey’s defense industry over the missile purchase, saying the Russian system could be used to gather intelligence on Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 stealth jet. It previously suspended Turkish defense contractors from the international program to help build the F-35.
“Nobody will be able to interfere in terms of what kind of defense systems we acquire, from which country, at what level, Erdogan told CBS News correspondent Margaret Brennan when asked if he intends to buy another round of S-400s.
“We are the only ones to make such decisions, the Turkish leader said.
When Brennan said, “that sounds like a yes, Erdogan answered, “Of course, of course, yes.
The interview was taped Tuesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, and will air in full Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.
Alexander Mikheyev, the head of Russia’s state-run arms exporter Rosoboronexport, said in August that Turkey was in the final stages of negotiating a new deal for S-400 systems. Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin are scheduled to meet next week in Sochi, Russia.
“We will of course reach an important decision in Turkey-Russia relations, Erdogan said.