ISTANBUL — Turkey has signed a deal to purchase a Russian surface-to-air missile system, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced Tuesday, the Turkish press reported.
The deal comes as Turkey has negotiated a rapprochement with Russia, and as its ties with the United States and European Union have worsened.
Although the prospective purchase had been made public several months ago, Erdogan’s announcement Tuesday was the first time he had confirmed that Turkey had transferred money to pay for the missile system, known as the S-400.
The deal is certain to stir unease in Washington and Brussels, where officials are trying to keep Turkey from entering Russia’s sphere of influence. The purchase of the system flies in the face of cooperation within the NATO alliance, which normally entails buying compatible NATO-approved systems.
“Signatures have been made for the purchase of S-400s from Russia,” Erdogan said. “A deposit has also been paid, as far as I know.”
As if anticipating criticism by NATO, he added: “Nobody has the right to discuss the Turkish republic’s independence principles or independent decisions about its defense industry.