Duvar English - Reuters
Turkey will not turn back from its acquisition of Russian S-400 defense systems despite U.S. sanctions, presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın said Feb. 11, adding that Ankara would seek to resolve issues with its NATO ally through dialogue.
The statement came after Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar earlier this week said that Ankara is open to “negotiations” on this matter and does not plan to use Russian S-400 defense missile systems “all the time.”
Speaking in an interview with state broadcaster TRT Haber, presidential spokesman Kalın said the minister's comments had been misunderstood, but did not elaborate, adding talks were being held with Washington over disagreements, but that quick solutions to problems should not be expected.
"The United States has so far said it will not engage in any negotiations over this issue (S-400s). Turkey will not turn back from the Russian S-400 issue," Kalın said.
"When we read the strategic picture the right way, we think we can make advances," he said. "By proposing solution ways, we will be in negotiations," he added, without elaborating.
U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Feb. 10 that American policy opposing Turkey's Russian S-400 missiles remains unchanged and that Washington continues to urge Turkey not to retain the system.
In a phone call last week that marked the first official contact between the allies since Joe Biden was elected U.S. president, Kalın told U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan the S-400 dispute needed resolving.
On Feb. 11, Kalın said he and Sullivan had agreed to hold another call in the coming days to specifically discuss their disagreements, adding that the two countries' foreign ministers would also speak in the coming days.
The allies are at odds over several issues, from the S-400s to Turkey's extradition request for a cleric it blames for a 2016 failed coup attempt, Syria policy, and an Iran sanctions-busting case against Turkish state lender Halkbank.
In December, Washington imposed sanctions on Ankara for acquiring the S-400s on grounds they threaten its F-35 fighter jets and are incompatible with shared NATO defenses. Turkey rejects this and says the systems will stand independently from NATO defenses.
Since Biden took office, Ankara has said it wants better ties and again proposed an S-400 joint working group. But Washington has repeatedly rejected that and says sanctions will remain until Turkey no longer possesses the missiles.