Turkey will not send Russian S-400s to Ukraine, says Erdogan

President said talks with Washington on new F-16 jets and kits were going well

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday categorically denied that Turkey was planning to send controversially bought Russian-made S-400 air defence systems to Ukraine.

There had been reports that Turkey's Nato allies had suggested the transfer to aid Ukraine's war effort.

But the Turkish leader told journalists aboard a flight back from the Nato summit in Brussels that his position on the Russian defence system was unchanged, reported broadcaster Haberturk.

The US imposed sanctions on Turkey's defence industry in December 2020 over the purchase of the S-400 system and expelled Ankara from the F-35 stealth fighter jet programme, where it was a manufacturer and buyer. Ankara said those measures were unjust.

Nato allies said the purchase was incompatible with the defence alliance’s integrated weapons procurement and expressed fears that the Russian systems could give Moscow insight into how to spot the stealth F-35 joint strike fighter.

Reuters last week reported that the US had informally discussed the idea that Turkey could transfer its S-400 systems to Ukraine, which relies heavily on Russian military equipment despite massive arms flows from the West since the war started a month ago.

In exchange, Reuters suggested, the US would drop sanctions and reverse its suspension of Turkey’s part in the development and purchase of F-35 jets.

Asked about the reports on Friday, Mr Erdogan reportedly denied the idea had been raised and said of Washington: “All they do is cause commotion.”

However, the Turkish president added that talks with Washington on buying new F-16 jets and kits were going well. He said he hoped the talks would yield results soon.

The president said he also discussed the possibility of buying SAMP/T missile defence systems from the Franco-Italian Eurosam consortium with France's President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi at the summit.

Updated: March 25, 2022, 1:00 PM
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