Turkey is buying Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems from Russia, according to its president Tayyip Erdogan, surprising its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies, the BBC News reported Tuesday.
The S-400 is Russia's next-generation, most advanced long-range anti-aircraft missile system. The weapon is capable of tracking and destroying all existing aerial targets, including ballistics and cruise missiles.
Russian Federation says that S-400 missiles are created to protect vital political, economic, administrative and military facilities from airstrikes, and are considered of the most advanced systems in the air- and anti-missiles defense.
US Defense Secretary James Mattis stated earlier that the US will not impede the S-400 missiles deal, saying that it is a Turkish "sovereign decision". "We are taking precautions and we will continue to do so", the Turkish leader said.
Russia and Turkey have signed a contract for Ankara to purchase the Russian-made S-400 missile defence system, the Kremlin confirmed on Tuesday.
His explanations, however, did not stop the outpouring of criticism from the USA and other members of the military alliance.
Erdogan stressed that Turkey was free to make military acquisitions based on its defense needs.
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The U.S. Defense Department said that it relayed its concerns to Turkey, and that the U.S.is committed to expediting the delivery of military equipment purchased by Turkey when possible.
He added that the best way to protect Turkey from various threats in its region remains the NATO-compatible missile defense system. Relations further deteriorated following an April referendum which expanded the powers of the president.
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The spat has prompted Germany to restrict its arms sales to Turkey.
Germany has said it would restrict some arms sales to Turkey, reflecting the diplomatic strain over a security crackdown in Turkey following a failed military coup past year.
"We have expressed our concern to the Turkish officials about the Russian-Turkish arms deal".