Russia, Turkey may sign new contract on S-400 systems in 2020

FILE PHOTO: A Russian serviceman walks past S-400 missile air defence systems in Tverskaya Street before a rehearsal for the Victory Day parade, which marks the anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, in central Moscow, Russia  Photograph:( Reuters )

Reuters Moscow Nov 26, 2019, 12.13 PM (IST)

Russia hopes to seal a deal to supply Turkey with more S-400 missile systems in the first half of next year, the head of Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport, Alexander Mikheev, said in an interview with RIA news agency published on Tuesday.

Turkey's purchase of the S-400 missiles has already drawn the ire of the United States, which has suspended Ankara from the F-35 stealth fighter jet programme, which it was a buyer and producer of, to punish it.

Washington has also warned of possible US sanctions, saying the missiles are not compatible with NATO defences, but has not yet imposed them.

And a senior US State Department official said last week that Turkey needed to get rid of the S-400s it had already bought to mend fences.

But Mikheev said in an interview with RIA that Moscow and Ankara were actively discussing Ankara taking up an option that was part of the original contract for it to take delivery of more S-400 systems with talks focused on financial questions.

"We hope that in the first half of 2020 we will sign the contract documents," RIA cited Mikheev as saying. "But I want to stress that military-technical cooperation with Turkey is not limited to the supply of the S-400s. We have big plans ahead."

Mikheev said the option, if signed, would cover a new regiment of S-400s and that some of the system's components would be produced in Turkey.

He said it was premature to talk about which components would be made in Turkey however and in what quantities.

Ankara began receiving the first batch of S-400s in July but they are not yet operational, though Turkish media reported on Monday that Turkish F-16 warplanes would fly over the country's capital to test the system.

Mikheev was cited as saying that efforts by the United States to stop other countries buying Russian military hardware had not been as effective as Washington hoped.

"You can see how confident India, China, Turkey and other countries are on the international stage," he said.

"Many are openly outraged by US sanctions policy, which is trying to prevent them from developing their own armed forces and technical military cooperation with Russia," he said.

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"We hope that in the first half of 2020 we will sign contract documents," RIA cited Mikheev as saying