Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he expected Russian S-400 missile defence systems to start arriving in Turkey in the first half of July, broadcaster NTV reported on Sunday – a development set to fuel tensions with NATO ally Washington.
The S-400s are not compatible with NATO’s systems and have been a growing source of discord between Turkey and theUnited Statesin recent months.
“We discussed the S-400 subject with Russia. Indeed the S-400 issue is settled,” Erdogan was cited as telling reporters on his plane returning from a visit to Tajikistan, where he attended a summit and met Russian PresidentVladimir Putin.
“I think they will start to come in the first half of July,” he added, giving a more specific forecast than he has in the past.
US acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan this month outlined howTurkeywould be pulled out of the F-35 fighter jet programme unless Ankara changed course on its plans to buy the missile systems.
Erdogan said he would discuss the issue with US PresidentDonald Trumpwhen they meet at this month’s G-20 summit.
“When someone lower down says different things, then we immediately make contact with Mr Trump and try to solve issues with telephone diplomacy. Matters don’t take long there,” he said.
On Thursday, Erdogan vowed to seek answers on his country’s “exclusion from F-35 project for reasons that have no rational or legitimate basis”, adding that Turkey was not only a customer but also a programme partner in the F-35 project.
Speaking at a meeting of his AK Party members, Erdogan said: “We will call to account in every platform Turkey being excluded from the F-35 programme for reasons without rationale or legitimacy.”
“We have so far paid $1.250bn,” he said.