Turkey says it is not considering alternative options for S-400 deployment

Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Ankara is still hoping for a settlement with the US on the issue

Turkey is not considering options for stationing Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems similar to the S-300 systems purchased by Cyprus in Crete and still hopes to settle the issue with the US. Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin told the Sabah newspaper on Tuesday.

“We believe that it is possible to create a mechanism with the US that would resolve concerns about the threat of the S-400 to NATO. We have suggested it before and we repeat the suggestion. [It concerns] both the purchase of Patriot systems and the study of the absence of a threat to the alliance and F-35 aircraft”, –  he said. He also recalled that “Turkey’s considerable efforts to negotiate the purchase of Patriot had failed, and the U.S. was unable to make a suitable offer to Ankara in this regard.”

Kalın stressed that the country’s authorities for the S-400 “are not considering a formula” similar to the “Cretan model”.

“Our defence minister did not mean that. The subject is overblown. We had earlier made a clear decision on S-400,” he said. The “Cretan model” refers to the situation with the S-300 PMU1 systems acquired by Cyprus in 1999. Due to pressure from Ankara, the rights for them were eventually transferred to Greece, and they were deployed in Crete. The deployment of the Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems in Crete was mediated and agreed to by the Americans, who were informed about the transfer.

For his part, Devlet Bahçeli, leader of the opposition, but a collaborator of the ruling party, also criticised the intentions of foreign countries to influence the republic’s decision to use the S-400s. He said the US was not heeding Ankara’s calls to stop supporting the Kurds, but demanded that their interests on the S-400 be taken into account. “We believe that on the subject of S-400, we should not take into account anyone else’s formulas, but be based on the criteria that are important to Ankara,” he said.

Russia and Turkey signed a contract for Moscow to supply Ankara with S-400 air defence systems in 2017. Turkey was the first NATO country to buy the systems from Russia. Ankara’s decision provoked a sharp negative reaction from the US and the alliance as a whole. The United States has not stopped trying to get Turkey to give up the Russian SAMs. Due to the fact that Turkey is not yielding to pressure and is not getting rid of S-400, Washington has excluded Ankara from the US program for production of the F-35 fifth generation fighter-bombers. In addition, the US has long threatened Turkey for buying S-400 with a series of unilateral sanctions, but was in no hurry to take these steps because it feared further aggravation of relations with a key NATO ally.

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