Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says that his country, which recently announced plans to buy S-400 surface-to-air missile systems from Russia, is also interested in acquiring a future Russian missile system that is still under development.
“In our talks with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin we are not thinking of stopping with the S-400s. We have had talks on the S-500s too,” Turkish media reports on October 13 quoted Erdogan as saying.
NATO member Turkey’s move to acquire the S-400s has been regarded in some Western capitals as a snub to the alliance amid tensions with Russia over its role in the wars in Syria and eastern Ukraine.
The S-400 deal, announced last month, has also caused concern because the Russian-made weapons cannot be integrated into the alliance’s defenses.
But Erdogan shrugged off those concerns in his remarks to reporters as he returned from a trip to Ukraine and Serbia.
Erdogan did not say when he had discussed the issue with Putin. The two leaders held talks in Ankara on September 28.
In a separate development, an aide to Putin said on October 13 that Russia and Saudi Arabia are close to signing a deal on supplying S-400 missile systems to Riyadh.
“The talks are ongoing now, the terms are being agreed,” Vladimir Kozhin said.
He said the contract could be signed “in the nearest time,” giving no further detail.
The announcement came after the U.S. State Department earlier this week approved the possible sale of a THAAD antimissile defense system to Saudi Arabia, citing Iran among regional threats.
Russia has stepped up efforts to increase its influence and undercut U.S. clout in the Middle East and nearby areas in the past two years,
It has taken a major role in the war in Syria, launched a campaign of air strikes against opponents of President Bashar al-Assad in September 2015, and bolstered its military presence on the ground.
With reporting by Reuters, haberturk.com, and Interfax