Russia to go ahead with controversial Turkey missile sale

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) attend a meeting with Russian and Turkish businessmen in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, 08 April 2019. EPA/ALEXEY NIKOLSKY / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN POOL MANDATORY CREDIT

MOSCOW.- Russia has Monday pledged to continue with the sale of military weapons to Turkey, including an anti-aircraft missile deal that was condemned by the US and NATO.

Russian president Vladimir Putin said that there will be other military projects with Turkey, apart from the controversial S-400 anti-aircraft missile agreement.

«Our countries are facing serious tasks aimed at boosting defense cooperation. First of all, it is about implementing a contract to deliver the S-400 missile systems to Turkey,» Putin told state-run TASS news agency.

He added that there are “other promising defense cooperation projects to work on”.

In April he announced that Russia had accelerated the production of S-400 systems for Turkey at the request of Ankara, and agreed on a price, amounting to $2.5 billion, according to the Turkish press.

Putin made the comments during a meeting with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who arrived in Moscow on Monday.

Erdogan has confirmed that Ankara expects the deliveries of the missiles in July, Anadolu news agency reported.

The S-400 is a state-of-the-art air defense system, capable of shooting down aerial targets at a distance of 250 km and non-strategic ballistic missiles at 60 km.

Putin also said that the construction of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant by Russia on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast needs more funding and that there are already potential investors.

Ankara signed an agreement in 2010 with Russia to build its first nuclear power plant in Akkuyu, which is due to be launched in 2023.

The two leaders also agreed to create a joint investment fund of 900 million euros ($1 billion).

Erdogan announced at the start of the meeting that they will sign three bilateral agreements.

He also spoke about the increased economic cooperation between the two countries, the progress of the construction of the TurkStream gas pipeline and the joint fight against terrorism.

The two leaders jointly said that during the past year, trade between the two countries has increased by 15 percent to $25 billion.

Both leaders have agreed to increase trade to $100 billion.

They are also due to discuss the conflict in Syria and the partial withdrawal of United States troops.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov condemned the US’s presence in the war-torn country, saying it was an «unjustifiable occupation,» at a press conference on Sunday.

Putin and Erdogan will also exchange opinions about the compliance of the Russian-Turkish memorandum to stabilize the situation in Idlib in September, which included the creation of a demilitarized zone. EFE-EPA

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