Turkey's purchase of Russian S-400 surface to air defence missile systems has sparked criticism from NATO ally US.
Moscow will not have any objections if Turkey does not activate S-400 missile systems, Russian envoy to Turkey said in an interview.
“Activating S-400s and the decision of using them completely belongs to the owner country. We’ve sold the product that Turkey was seeking for. The owner of the systems is Turkey, completely up to Turkey’s decision,” Alexei Yerkhov, the Russian ambassador to Ankara, told Sena Alkan, diplomatic correspondent for private broadcaster CNN Turk.
Turkey bought Russian S-400 surface to air defence missile systems to protect its airspace from potential dangers that could emerge Syria. The move has sparked US criticism with Washington saying they are not compatible with NATO systems.
In February, Turkey’s Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said that Turkey will activate the S-400 missile systems and there should be “no doubt” about that.
Reports emerged in April that Turkish officials suspended the activation of the missiles citing the Covid-19 pandemic was impeding the efforts to set it up.
“It is like a car that you own. You can either drive it to the beach, or keep it in your garage,” the Russian envoy said.
Russian jets in Libya and counterfeit notes
The ambassador claimed US Africa Command’s announcement that Russian military aircraft arrived in Libya recently from an airbase in Russia via Syria, where they were repainted to hide their Russian origin, counterfeit banknotes sent to Haftar via Malta and Wagner mercenary group's actions in Libya were all fabrications.
The US military published satellite visuals that Russia has deployed fighter aircrafts to Libya to support Russian mercenaries fighting for warlord Khalifa Haftar.
“If there is concrete evidence, they should follow up. If there is an aircraft, it must be in operation. If the Russian fighter jets were there, wouldn’t the hospitals and schools be bombed? Did we see such a thing?” Yerkhov asked.
Russian private military contractor Wagner Group has up to 1,200 people deployed in Libya to strengthen Haftar's militias, according to a UN report.
In May, the US State Department said that it “commends” the seizure of $1.1 billion of “counterfeit Libyan currency” by Malta.
According to the US officials, the banknotes were printed by Goznak, the Russian state-owned company, and ordered by an “illegitimate parallel entity”, the department said, in an apparent reference to warlord Khalifa Haftar.
Speaking on the issue, the ambassador claimed that some have been using it against Russia as a tool but it is not the truth.
Denying the accusations, the ambassador defended Russia saying that Libya’s central bank has two branches, one in Tripoli and another one in Benghazi, claiming both of them as official government organisations. For this reason, ambassador says, Russia can not be held responsible.
“Coinage agreement was made in 2015. We have just fulfilled the commitment of agreement and just sent the money to the ordering party. We, as Russia and Turkey both support a ceasefire across Libya,” the ambassador said.
Fragile ceasefire in Idlib
Turkey previously stated that Syrian regime forces are violating ceasefire in Idlib. “The regime is not keeping its promises of a ceasefire despite the agreement and is violating the ceasefire, an escalation in violence could lead to a humanitarian tragedy,” Akar said.
In response to Turkey’s statements, the ambassador said that the ceasefire is fragile in Syria’s Idlib. He stressed that the March 5 agreement, brought calm to Idlib despite some violations.
“The attacks on Syrian state forces and us are both taking place but in general, calm has been observed for 3 months. It is a positive development. The situation’s sensitivity should encourage all parties for a potential political process in Syria,” Yerkhov said.
“Apparently, there will not be any military solution. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, all political negotiations have suspended but we should keep going on when the conditions are improved,” he added.