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Erdogan: Turkey could buy more Russian S-400 missiles

  • 26 Sep 2021

In an interview with American broadcaster CBS News, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Ankara would have to decide its defence systems on its own.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York City, US, September 21, 2021. ( Reuters )

Turkey has said it would consider buying a second Russian missile system in defiance of strong objections by the United States.

In an interview with American broadcaster CBS News, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey would have to decide its defence systems on its own.

Speaking to correspondent Margaret Brennan in New York this past week, Erdogan explained that Turkey wasn't given the option to buy American-made Patriot missiles and the US hadn't delivered F-35 stealth jets despite a payment of $1.4 billion. Erdogan's comments came in excerpts released in advance of the full interview being broadcast on Sunday.

READ MORE: We hope S-400 issue can be resolved – US envoy to Turkey

NATO member Turkey was left out of the F-35 programme and defense officials were sanctioned after it bought the Russian-made S-400 missile defence system. 

The US objects to the use of Russian systems within NATO and says it poses a threat to the F-35s. 

Turkey maintains the S-400s could be used independently without being integrated into NATO systems and therefore pose no risk.

The US also sanctioned Turkey in 2020 for its purchase under a 2017 law aimed at pushing back Russian influence. The move was the first time that the law, known as CAATSA, was used to penalise a US ally.

But Erdogan has remained defiant. “Of course, of course, yes,” Erdogan said after stating Turkey would make its own defence choices, in response to Brennan’s question on whether Turkey would buy more S-400s.

The issue is one of several sticking points in Turkish-American relations that also include US support for PKK- YPG terror group, and the continued US residency of a Fetullah Gulen accused of plotting the failed coup attempt in 2016.

Erdogan is scheduled to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on September 29.

READ MORE: Erdogan: US not 'acting honestly' with Turkey, ties at low point

“Let Mideast people make the decision”

President Erdogan also said that the US military should leave Syria and Iraq like the American troops left Afghanistan.

"About 900 US troops in Syria - If I am the one to decide, I say they should leave Syria and Iraq like they left Afghanistan," Erdogan said.

"If we want to work for peace in the world, there is no point in staying in those regions. Let the people of these regions make the decision about how to administrate these areas."

"America is a NATO country, Turkey is a NATO country. Will America act together with terrorist organisations such as PKK and YPG in the region, or will it act together with its friend in NATO, Turkey? It has to decide. I prefer the second option."

The YPG is the Syrian branch of the PKK, which Turkey, the US and the EU designate as a terrorist group. 

The PKK has waged a terror campaign against Turkey for over 30 years and the fighting has left more than 40,000 dead, including civilians.

Washington has chosen the group as an ally to fight against Daesh in Syria despite Ankara’s protest, sweeping the links between the PKK and the YPG under the rug.

READ MORE: Exclusive: PKK/YPG conscripting minors as it struggles with recruitment

'Turkey is not at the Kabul airport now'

The Turkish president said that Ankara asked the US to act jointly to run the Kabul airport in Afghanistan, however, it did happened on the contrary.   

"When the proposal to protect the Kabul airport came to us, I told to Mr. Biden that we could undertake such a task, I said, "We want three things." 

"One of these is logistic support, including administrative and financial support. Another step is the transfer of weapons, ammunition etc., to Turkey. 'As a NATO partner, let's act jointly with you here,' I said. But, on the contrary, all the weapons, ammunition and vehicles at the Kabul airport were given to the Taliban," Erdogan said.

He aded that Ankara did not have any agreement on the matter with the Taliban at the moment. 

"At the moment, we do not have any agreement with the Taliban yet. Currently, the Taliban are mostly acting jointly with Qatar. We withdrew our soldiers and civilians from there. We are not at the Kabul airport right now."

"But I have to say one thing very clearly. We have a historical unity against the people of Afghanistan. We have always given the support that no one else has given to Afghanistan," he said.

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