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Erdogan: Turkey intends to buy more Russian defense systems

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Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, USA, September 21, 2021. REUTERS / Eduardo Munoz / Pool

WASHINGTON, Sept.26 (Reuters) – President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey still intends to purchase a second batch of S-400 missile defense systems from Russia, a move that could worsen the split with the NATO ally Washington and trigger new US sanctions.

Washington says the S-400s pose a threat to its F-35 fighter jets and to NATO’s larger defense systems. Turkey said it was unable to procure air defense systems from a NATO ally on satisfactory terms.

“Going forward, no one will be able to interfere in terms of what kind of defense systems we acquire, from what country to what level,” Erdogan said in a Face the Nation interview with Margaret Brennan to CBS News on Sunday.

“No one can interfere with this. We are the only ones making such decisions.”

The United States imposed sanctions on Turkey’s Defense Industry Directorate, its chief Ismail Demir and three other employees in December following the country’s acquisition of a first batch of S-400. Read more

Talks continued between Russia and Turkey over the delivery of a second batch, which Washington said would almost certainly trigger new sanctions.

Erdogan will travel to Russia next week to meet with President Vladimir Putin to discuss issues such as violence in northwestern Syria. Read more

Erdogan also said that US President Joe Biden never raised the issue of Turkey’s human rights record, which international rights groups consider to be of great concern, confirming Reuters information dating early September.

When asked if Biden raised the issue at their June meeting on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Brussels, Erdogan replied: “No, he didn’t. And because we have no such problems in terms of freedoms, Turkey is incomparably free, ”he said.

Turkey is among the top jailers of journalists, according to figures from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), while Human Rights Watch (HRW) says Erdogan’s authoritarian regime has consolidated itself by passing legislation that violates international human rights obligations.

U.S. and Turkish sources told Reuters earlier this month that Biden, who has repeatedly said promoting human rights around the world is central to his foreign policy, failed to address the issue. human rights issue during his meeting with Erdogan. The discussion focused on Afghanistan, Syria and Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400s.

Turkish officials took this as a signal that Washington would not insist on human rights, the sources said, despite repeated public criticism from the Biden administration over Ankara’s treatment of opposition groups and its official recognition that the murders of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire in 1915 were genocide. .

Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by Toby Chopra, Pravin Char and Daniel Wallis

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