The reports on Turkey's purchase of Russian S-400 air defense missile systems (ADMS) are false, according to General Joseph Dunford, the US Army Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at a security conference in the city of Aspen. The video of the speech was posted on YouTube.
According to Dunford, the US pays great attention to relations with Turkey. “I've been to Turkey about 12 times over the past year,” he said. The General stressed that relations with Turkey are “critical” for the US, although the two countries have disagreements over the course of the military campaign in Syria. Despite Ankara's objections, the US supported the Kurdish forces in their fight against Islamists, Dunford explained.
When asked about the sale of S-400 missile complexes to Turkey by Russia, Dunford said that the news was false. “This was reported by the media but this is not true. They hadn’t bought the S-400 system in Russia,” the General said. Dunford noted that the possible acquisition of Russian air defenses by Ankara would raise red flags with the United States. “This would be a cause for concern for us if they did, but this has not happened so far,” Dunford stated.
Negotiations on the supply of the latest S-400 missile systems to Turkey have been held at the highest level since 2016. In the spring of 2017, this topic was brought up at the meeting of Vladimir Putin and the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Kremlin. In May, according to sources, Russia offered to sell missile complexes to Turkey at a price of $500 million per division.
On July 14, Bloomberg agency reported that the two countries had reached an agreement on the transaction. According to the agency, Russia would supply two S-400 divisions to the Turkish army while two more divisions would be produced directly in Turkey under Russian license. According to Bloomberg’s source in the Turkish leadership, the contract value will be $2.5 billion. On July 18, Alexander Mikheev, the head of Rosoboronexport confirmed that the contract for the delivery of the S-400 to Turkey has been agreed upon.
Later, on July 15, the reports on the sale of the S-400 systems were commented on by James Mattis, the US Secretary of Defense. He said that the purchase of Russian systems is a "sovereign decision" of Ankara but he expressed doubts about their compatibility with the air defense system of NATO countries.