Alwaght-Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his country will procure Russia's S-400 air defense missile system "in the shortest time," paying no heed to warnings issued by the US, a NATO partner.
"Turkey needs S-400s and its deal has been done," Erdogan said at a graduation ceremony for military officers in the western city of Balikesir on Friday.
"God willing, we will buy them in the shortest time," he stressed.
On April 3, Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin said in the Turkish capital Ankara that they had agreed to expedite the delivery of S-400 missile systems. The delivery had previously been scheduled for late 2019 and early 2020.
The S-400 system, whose full name is the Triumf Mobile Multiple Anti-Aircraft Missile System (AAMS), is an advanced Russian missile system designed to detect, track, and destroy planes, drones, or missiles as far as 402 kilometers away. It has previously been sold only to China and India.
Washington and NATO officials strive to prevent the sophisticated Russian-built anti-aircraft weapon system from collecting information about the US-made all-weather stealth multirole warplanes, technically known as the Lockheed Martin F-35 fighters, just as they are gaining a foothold in Europe.
The S-400 is Russia's most advanced long-range anti-aircraft missile system, with the ability to carry three types of missiles capable of destroying targets, including ballistic and cruise missiles.
In June, the US Senate passed a bill prohibiting sales to Turkey of F-35 jets, citing the S-400 purchase as well as Turkey’s detention of US citizens.
Referring to the row between the US and Turkey after the detention of the US Christian missionary Andrew Craig Brunson, Erdogan said Turkey's military and economy were being targeted on the pretext of the Brunson case.
Turkey and the US are currently experiencing rocky relations following Washington’s imposition of sanctions over the detention of Brunson, who is under house arrest in Turkey over terrorism charges.
Brunson's charges include spying for the PKK -- listed as a terrorist group by both the US and Turkey -- and the Fetullah Organization, the group behind the defeated coup attempt in Turkey of July 2016.