Latest: Turkey’s Erdogan says S-400 deal “national security decision”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey’s procurement of the Russian S-400 air defense systems is a national security deal and in delivery stage, local media reported on Wednesday.

“The agreement concerning the S-400 is a done deal, we are today at the point of delivery. The calendar for deliveries is proceeding,” Erdogan told journalists on his way back to Turkey from a summit with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Monday, according to Hurriyet Daily News.

The S-400 deal, which has attracted worldwide interest, is “a completed job and everything is ready,” Erdogan said.

The Ankara-Moscow S-400 deal was inked in December 2017, when the parties signed a 2.5-billion-U.S.-dollar agreement for two batteries of the system, Russia’s most advanced long-range anti-aircraft missile system. Turkey will be the first NATO member country to acquire the system.

Responding to Washington’s criticism on the deal, Erdogan said the steps taken by Turkey for its national security do not target any third country or hand over the will on Turkey’s sovereignty rights to a third country.

Last week the Pentagon announced that it halted “deliveries and activities” related to Turkey’s procurement of the F-35 fighter jets program if Ankara insisted on the S-400 deal. The U.S. also rejects sales of Patriots to Turkey in case of the latter’s purchase of Russian systems.