- The Washington Times
Sunday, September 26, 2021

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country will brush aside strong warnings from the U.S. and move ahead with additional purchases of a major Russian-made missile defense system.

In an interview with CBS’ “Face the Nation” that aired Sunday morning, a defiant Mr. Erdogan again made clear that Turkey intends to move ahead in its military partnership with Russia. Specifically, he suggested his country will buy another round of Russia’s S-400 missile defense system despite that system creating a wedge between the U.S. and Turkey, a fellow NATO member.

“I’m going to possibly acquire defense systems from another country and nobody can get involved in this,” Mr. Erdogan said. 

“In the future, nobody will be able to interfere in terms of what kind of defense systems we acquire, from which country at what level. Nobody can interfere with that. We are the only ones to make such decisions,” he said. “We are a country with 84 million inhabitants and we are very resolute in terms of our defense systems and the necessary measures to be taken, and nobody can interfere with that.”

After Turkey bought its first round of the S-400 in 2019, the Trump administration kicked Ankara out of the Pentagon’s F-35 fighter jet program. Turkish companies had played a key role in the assembly of the F-35, and Turkish pilots were in the U.S. learning how to fly the cutting-edge planes.

But Pentagon officials argued that the S-400 and F-35 were incompatible. The Defense Department and other federal agencies warned that the S-400 could collect information about the F-35, potentially opening up major security vulnerabilities and robbing the F-35 of some of its stealth capabilities.

In addition to removing Turkey from the F-35 program, the U.S. also imposed sanctions on some Turkish officials in response to the S-400 purchase. But none of those steps have dissuaded Mr. Erdogan, who said he has made Turkey‘s position clear to President Biden.

“I explained everything to President Biden,” Mr. Erdogan said when asked whether Mr. Biden asked him to stop buying S-400s.

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