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Mar 08 2019

Turkey needs Russian S-400s missiles, defence minister says

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Friday that Turkey would not cancel its purchase of Russian S-400 air defence missiles as they were necessary for the country's protection.

"Our S-400 agreement is a necessity beyond preference. We have to protect our 82 million citizens," Akar said in an interview with state-run Anadolu news agency.

Despite the objections of Turkey's Western allies, the missiles would begin to be installed in October, Akar said.

Turkey signed an agreement with Russia reported to be worth $2.5 billion in December 2017 to purchase of Russian S-400s, but they have not yet been delivered.

The United States and other NATO countries say that Turkey’s deployment of S-400 missiles would allow Russia to collect sensitive data on NATO aircraft and undermine their defences.

U.S. officials have said that if Turkey proceeds with the S-400 purchase, Washington will withdraw its offer to sell a $3.5 billion Patriot defence missiles.

The United States could also continue to block the sale to Turkey of F-35 stealth fighter jets and impose sanctions if Ankara does go ahead with the S-400 purchase.

Akar said was Turkey is trying ways to operate the S-400 missile systems separately from the F-35 jets.