The chief executive of Russia’s state-owned arms trade company Rosoboronexport says Turkey has expressed great interest in the acquisition of Russian military hardware other than advanced S-400 air defense missile systems.
Aleksandr Mikheev said on Monday that Turkish officials have voiced eagerness to purchase other Russian-built air defense systems of various ranges, anti-tank munitions as well as remote controlled weapon stations.
Mikheev further noted that Moscow and Ankara have already established several joint ventures aimed at developing new state-of-the-art fighter jets and helicopters, modules for armored vehicles and maintenance of weaponry previously sold to Turkey.
The Russian official went on to say that Russia and Turkey, thanks to the “constructive dialogue between their political leadership,” have managed to thwart foreign rivals’ bids to meddle in their bilateral military cooperation.
On April 10, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia is interested in expanding military and technical cooperation with other states, and is ready to consider signing new contracts on S-400 systems to Turkey.
His statement came after Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu indicated Turkey could order more missile defense systems from Russia in case the United States refuses to supply Ankara with Patriot surface-to-air missile systems.
“If the US does not want to sell Patriot to us, tomorrow we may buy another S-400 system and we also can purchase other air defense systems,” Cavusoglu told Turkish-language NTV television news network in an exclusive interview.
The United States announced on April 1 that it would be suspending all “deliveries and activities” related to Turkey’s procurement of F-35 stealth fighter jets over Ankara’s plans to purchase the S-400.
Moscow and Ankara finalized an agreement on the delivery of the S-400 in December 2017.
Back in April 2018, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin said in Ankara that they had agreed to expedite the delivery of the S-400. At the time, it was said that the delivery could be made between late 2019 and early 2020.
A number of NATO member states have criticized Turkey for its planned purchase of the S-400, arguing the missile batteries are not compatible with those of the military alliance.
They also argue that the purchase could jeopardize Ankara’s acquisition of F-35 fighter jets and possibly result in US sanctions.
The S-400 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.
Ankara is striving to boost its air defense, particularly after Washington decided in 2015 to withdraw its Patriot surface-to-air missile system from Turkish border with Syria, a move that weakened Turkey’s air defense.
Before gravitating towards Russia, the Turkish military reportedly walked out of a $3.4-billion contract for a similar Chinese system. The withdrawal took place under purported pressure from Washington.
Ankara’s ties with its Western allies in NATO have been strained over a range of issues.
Erdogan has been critical of Washington for supporting Kurdish groups in Syria that he says are responsible for terror attacks inside Turkey, among other issues.
The Turkish leader has also slammed US officials for rejecting his requests to hand over Fethullah Gulen, a powerful opposition figure living in the United States, whom Ankara accuses of having masterminded a coup attempt in July 2016.