Turkey says it has reached the “final stage” of talks with Russia to purchase the advanced S-400 long-range air missile defense system.
Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik told a press conference on Friday that “the final stage does not mean ‘let’s sign a deal tomorrow morning.'”
“It is clear that Turkey needs a missile defense system, but NATO member countries have not presented an offer which is financially effective,” he further said, adding that Ankara would not be able to integrate the S-400 into the NATO system and it had no plan to do so.
Back in February, Isik (seen below) announced that talks with Russian officials over the purchase had “progressed significantly,” but sealing the deal was not expected in the near future.
The news of the S-400 negotiations between Ankara and Moscow surfaced in November 2016, a year after Turkey walked out of a $3.4 billion contract for a similar Chinese system, namely FD-2000, the export version of HQ-9, claiming that Beijing had been unwilling to finalize the deal.
Turkey’s preference of using Chinese defense systems caused concern among other NATO members at the time, primarily because the HQ-9 system was incompatible with the equipment used by the military bloc.
In 2015, Ankara was also angered by Washington’s decision to withdraw its Patriot surface-to-air missile battery from Turkey’s border with Syria. The move initially prompted the Anatolian country to consider developing an indigenous missile system, but that stance later shifted.
Russia’s S-400 system is designed for high-efficiency defense against airstrikes utilizing various kinds of ballistic missile attacks. It is capable of striking dynamic targets in the air at a distance of around 400 kilometers moving at a speed of almost five kilometers per second at various altitudes.