The last stage of Russia’s deliveries of S-400 air defence systems to Turkey is expected to be completed in November-December, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced, Trend reports citing Sputnik.
"We have purchased the S-400s … Deliveries are already being carried out. The last stage will be in December, or maybe even in November. We are no longer in a hopeless situation. Everything we need, we’ll buy wherever we want," Erdogan told journalists on Tuesday, as broadcast on Turkish national television.
Turkey's agreement with Russia on the purchase of S-400 air defence systems has been strongly criticized by NATO and the United States, which have cited security concerns over the S-400’s incompatibility with NATO's air defence systems.
Russia started S-400 deliveries to Turkey in July, with the second stage of the deliveries having been completed in September.
Speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey Mustafa Sentop said in September that the purchase of Russian S-400 was a necessity as Turkey had to look for other ways to ensure security amid Washington’s reluctance to sell the Patriot air defence system.
Washington announced in July its decision to suspend Turkey's participation in the F-35 international program over its purchase of the S-400s, adding that the country would be completely removed from the project by late March 2020.
"[US] said: ‘We are not giving you F-35.’ We have paid $1.4 billion and Turkey manufactures and supplies them with parts for the F-35. We are not clients, we are partners!" Erdogan stressed on Tuesday, adding that the US has also increased the cost of F-35 by $7-8 million.
"We have alternatives ready. There are places where we can purchase aircraft and we are starting to get offers," the Turkish president pointed out.
Earlier this year, Erdogan said that his government and Moscow were conducting negotiations on the possible acquisition of Russian Su-57 fighters. According to Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov, Ankara is interested in Russian fighter jets, but specific talks on the sensitive matter are not currently on the agenda.