Turkey's Erdogan eyes more Russian missiles and says 'nobody can interfere'

A second purchase of S-400 anti-aircraft missiles could trigger more US sanctions

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the UN General Assembly in New York. AFP
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Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he was planning to buy another batch of Russian-made missile defence systems, further straining ties with the US.

Mr Erdogan said he was contemplating purchase of more Russian-made S-400 anti-aircraft missiles and said other countries could not tell Ankara what it should to do.

“Nobody will be able to interfere in terms of what kind of defence systems we acquire, from which country, at what level,” Mr Erdogan told CBS News.

“Nobody can interfere with that. We are the only ones to make such decisions."

Mr Erdogan’s comments came from an interview recorded earlier this week on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in New York. The complete interview was broadcast on Sunday.

He complained that Turkey was not offered American-made Patriot missiles and that Washington had not come good on delivering F-35 stealth fighter jets despite Ankara paying $1.4 billion.

Turkey, a Nato member, was forced out of the F-35 programme and Turkish defence chiefs were hit with sanctions after Ankara bought its first batch of the Russian-made S-400 missile defence system.

The US says a second Turkish purchase of S-400s would almost certainly trigger new US sanctions. Using Russian systems within Nato threatens the F-35 programme, according to US military chiefs.

In New York this week, Mr Erdogan told reporters that relations with President Joe Biden had begun poorly despite what he called his good work with previous US leaders during his 19 years leading Turkey.

The two men did not meet face to face at this year’s UN General Assembly session.

The missile system issue is one of several disagreements in US-Turkish relations that also include Turkey’s human rights record and US support for Syrian Kurdish fighters who Ankara considers terrorists.

Mr Erdogan is set to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on September 29 in the Black Sea port of Sochi, where the possibility of new defence contracts is on the agenda.

Updated: September 26, 2021, 4:29 PM