Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, admitted that the alliance failed to convince Ankara to abandon the purchase of the S-400.
The confession came at Stoltenberg’s speech at Georgetown University. According to the secretary general, instead of the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems, Turkey had and still has the opportunity to purchase Patriot (USA) or SAMP / T (Italy-France) systems, TASS reports. However, the alliance failed to convince Ankara, Stoltenberg stated: “So far we have not succeeded in this.”
But, NATO Secretary General assured, efforts in this direction will continue. He explained that the air defense systems used by Turkey should be integrated into the organization’s system, but with the Russian S-400 “this is not the case.” He also noted that Turkey is an important member of the alliance, therefore, if “there are disagreements, then they should be dealt with within the framework of NATO.”
Earlier, on September 27, Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced Ankara’s intention to purchase another batch of S-400 from Russia. The Turkish president indicated that a sovereign country can independently make decisions on the purchase of weapons from other states. Although he later explained that Ankara took this step because of Washington’s refusal to transfer Patriot air defense systems to it.
The crisis in relations between the United States and Turkey lasts since July 2019when negotiations began on the latter on the purchase of air defense systems from Russia. Washington demanded to abandon the deal, offering American Patriot systems in return, and threatened to delay or cancel the sale of the latest F-35 Lightning II fighters to Turkey. Turkey could acquire over 100 aircraft.
In 2017, Turkey signed a contract with Russia for the supply of four divisions of S-400 systems worth $ 2.5 billion. In February 2019, the head of Turkey’s defense industry, Ismail Demir, announced that Ankara would commission Russian complexes by October 2019. Representatives of the United States and NATO, repeatedly warned Ankarathat Russian air defense systems cannot be integrated into the air and missile defense system of the North Atlantic Alliance, which includes Turkey. In turn, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the purchase of Russian air defense systems the country’s “sovereign right”.