Russian S-400 air defense systems will not be integrated into any active NATO military systems, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said in Washington on Monday.
“This system will not be integrated neither with NATO’s systems nor with any other somehow connected to NATO’s national [military] systems,” the minister said during an annual US-Turkey conference in Washington.
He vowed that the decision would not change any of Turkey’s commitments to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The Turkish minister also expressed hope that other NATO countries would also keep their commitments to Turkey.
The procurement of the S-400 is not an issue,” Akar said. “We believe that all disagreements can and should be resolved.”
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Commenting on the technical discussions with the United States, the minister noted that Turkey was ready for them and it would address concerns over Ankara’s procurement of Russian S-400 air defense systems.
“We are prepared to engage in technical discussions to address US concerns over the S-400 procurement,” Akar said adding that Turkey’s move to acquire the S-400 purchase is a “national decision.”
The remarks come after earlier this month, the Pentagon announced that Washington halted deliveries and activities with Turkey on its F-35 fighter jet programme over Ankara’s decision to purchase S-400 air defense systems.
In December 2017, Russia and Turkey signed a loan agreement for the delivery of S-400 air defense systems to Ankara. The Russian-Turkish cooperation on S-400 deliveries has been criticized by NATO and the United States, which have cited security concerns and the inability of integration between S-400 and NATO’s air defense systems. Ankara, for its part, has said that the purchasing of military equipment is its sovereign affair and ruled out the possibility of abandoning the deal with Moscow.
The first S-400 shipment is expected to be delivered to Ankara in July.
President Trump has made it clear he wants to bring the troops home, but the military industrial complex remains in control of America’s military policies.