Turkey will not give up on Russian S-400 air defense system to acquire US Patriots, the Turkish president said on Wednesday, stressing his country “can buy Patriots too”, Anadolu Agency reports.
“It is out of question to completely leave Russian S-400 to buy US Patriots. We can buy Patriots too. However, we will buy S-400 as well,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters in his flight en route to Ankara from Washington.
“Turkey can buy US Patriots, but we consider offers to buy just Patriots and completely put Russian S-400s aside as an interference in our sovereignty rights,” Erdogan added.
Turkey’s acquisition of the advanced Russian air-defense system prompted the Trump administration to remove Turkey from the F-35 fifth-generation joint strike fighter program in July.
The US maintains that the system could be used by Russia to covertly obtain classified details on the jet and is incompatible with NATO systems.
Turkey, however, counters that the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO systems and would not pose a threat to the alliance.