Progress with Russia over air-defence system: Erdogan

Ankara (AFP) –


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday announced progress in talks to get Russia to supply its latest S-400 air-defence system to Ankara.

"We have signed with Russia. God willing, we will see S-400s in our country," Erdogan said in a speech to his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmakers in parliament.

It was not clear what part of the deal for a potential sale of the hi-tech system by Russia had been signed between Moscow and Ankara.

But late Monday, Erdogan said most of the meetings for the deal had been completed.

Erdogan hit back against any potential criticism of the sale, pointing to NATO ally Greece's use of the Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft missile system.

"Why didn't anyone say anything then? Why are they uncomfortable when it is Turkey?" Erdogan asked.

If the deal is completed, it would be a significant step after the two countries repaired relations damaged by Ankara's downing of a Russian warplane on the Syrian border in 2015.

Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin have met several times since the rapprochement last year and Russia has rolled back most of its retaliatory sanctions.

But the two countries remain on opposing sides of the Syrian conflict, with Moscow backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Turkey supporting opposition fighters.

Last week, Sergei Chemezov, head of Russian state arms conglomerate Rostec, said technical issues on the deal had been decided and only administrative issues remained.