Russian S-400 system done deal, says Erdoğan following talks with Putin
Turkey's plans to push forth with the purchase the Russian S-400 air-defence system are compete and final, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said during a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Monday, left-wing Gazete Duvar repored.
"We have already drawn out our road map regarding the S-400, and those who are calling on us 'forgo' at this time clearly do not know us. If we have made an agreement, then that matter is over," the Turkish president said following a session of the Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council in Moscow.
Erdoğan's statements on Ankara's planned purchase of the S-400 air-defence system arrive following a Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council meeting with Putin, which addressed an array of topics, including Syria and increased economic cooperation during their meeting, Bloomberg reported.
Turkey’s plans to press ahead with the purchase of the Russian S-400 air-defence system despite opposition from Washington, has led the U.S. threatening to expel Ankara from its F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet programme if the deal is completed.
Last week, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence warned Turkey that it “‘must choose” between being a critical player in NATO “or risk the security of that partnership by making reckless decisions.”
Putin on Monday stressed that the two leaders are continuing to coordinate efforts to stabilise the conflict in Syria.
“We are coordinating our efforts in the context of stepping up the intra-Syrian political process, particularly with an eye towards forming a constitutional committee as soon as possible,” Putin said.
Russia and Turkey failed to agree on military action in ousting militants from the northwestern Idlib region during February summit talks with Iran in Russia’s Sochi.
Ankara’s demand for a buffer zone in northern Syria to prevent U.S-backed Kurdish forces getting access to the Turkish border is also causing divide between the two countries. Ankara maintains Kurdish forces, namely the People’s Protection Units (YPG) are affiliated with outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants in southeast Turkey. The PKK is an armed group that has been in war in Turkey for autonomy for over three decades.
Syrian Kurds were left exposed in December when U.S. President Donald Trump unexpectedly announced he’s withdrawing out all 2,000 U.S. troops from the country. Washington later stated that 400 soldiers would remain in Syria to prevent a resurgence of Islamic State (ISIS) and protect America’s Kurdish allies.
The Russian president has proposed reviving a 1998 security treaty between Turkey and Syria during talks with his Turkish counterpart in Moscow in January.
Obliging Syria to prevent activity on its territory that jeopardises Turkish security, the treaty allows for the Turkish military to cross the border in self-defence if Damascus fails to control Kurdish fighters.
Turkish president Erdoğan said Turkey aims at $100 billion trade volume with Russia and will set new targets for the near future, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
Erdoğan also recalled that Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant’s groundbreaking and an offshore section of TurkStream pipeline were completed, noting "As of the end of this year, we aim to complete the inland section of TurkStream pipeline.
“Notably, Russian-Turkish energy cooperation has become truly strategic,” Putin noted on Monday.
Russia, the largest natural gas supplier to Turkey, exported 24 billion cubic metres to the country last year. This covers almost half of Turkey’s needs.
“A new gas pipeline, TurkStream, will significantly boost the supply of Russian gas to Turkish consumers when it becomes operational. The deep-water section and Turkey’s coastal section of the pipeline were line up the other day, marking the culmination of a major phase of the construction process,” the Russian president said.
The TurkStream pipeline, when completed, will consist of two lines with the capacity to transport 31.5 billion cubic metres of gas from Russia. The first line will carry 15.75 billion cubic metres of gas to Turkey while the second line will transfer Russian gas to Europe through Turkey.
Monday's meeting is the third between the two leaders in 2019.