Turkey bought Russian S-400 missile defense systems to use them, and has not pledged to anyone that they would go unused, Turkey’s foreign minister said on Tuesday.
'Turkey has no commitment to anyone that we will not install or use the Russian S-400s. We bought them because we needed an air defense system,' Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters ahead of his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party group meeting in parliament.
Late this year Italy is set to remove its SAMP-T missile defense system from southeastern Turkey, he added.
'The U.S., Dutch and German [governments] withdrew Patriot batteries from our border in 2013. The Spaniards extended theirs. Turkey has only one air defense system battery now,” Cavusoglu said.
Ankara received its first Russian S-400 missiles in July. The delivery of the first battery was completed on July 25, and a second batch started delivery in August.
In April 2017, when its protracted efforts to buy an air defense system from the U.S. proved fruitless, Turkey signed a contract with Russia to acquire the S-400 anti-missile shield.
Opposing deployment of the Russian system, U.S. officials argued that they would be incompatible with NATO systems and would expose its F-35 jets to possible Russian subterfuge.
Turkey, however, stressed that the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO systems, and posed no threat to the alliance or its armaments.
Turkey also proposed a commission to clarify any technical issues, but the U.S. has failed to respond.
Turkey has rebuffed suggestions from U.S. leaders that it leave the Russian S-400 system unactivated in order to avoid possible U.S. sanctions.
The S-400 is seen as one of the most advanced missile systems in the world, capable of tracking several targets simultaneously.
Writing by Sinan Uslu