Turkey at the NATO crossroads, signs missile agreements with Russia and Europe
Turkey, a NATO member, has agreed to a $2.5 billion deal with Moscow for its advanced S-400 missile defence system, while also signing a separate agreement to develop its existing system in Paris.
Turkey's membership of NATO was not an impediment to the purchase of the Russian missiles, said Turkey's ambassador to Moscow, Huseyin Dirioz.
The Russian S-400 deal involves the sale of two missile batteries by the Russian arms-export company, Rosoboronexport.
The deal will allow Ankara to deploy the Russian missiles anywhere in its own borders, while the cooperation agreement with European countries must be kept away from sensitive border regions, Bloomberg reported.
Turkey was looking to source a loan from Moscow to buy the missile system in March.
Ankara also signed a major agreement to develop its already existing missile defence system with a consortium of Italian-French missile companies.
"I am happy to announce that this afternoon Turkey has signed a cooperation agreement with Eurosam to produce missile defence systems," Defence Minister Fikri Işık said on Friday.
Eurosam is a French-Italian manufacturer of anti-air missiles, jointly owned by MBDA France and Italy and Thales Group, a French defence services contractor.
The deal, if finalised, will lead to the production of 30 long-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems, which can intercept missiles with a 600 kilometre range.
Turkey has been a member of NATO since 1952, however there have been a series of clashes with NATO states in recent years as Ankara has pursued a more independent approach to foreign policy.
The United States' support for Kurdish militants in northern Syria has caused tensions on Turkey's southern border that has almost spilled over into violence.
Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Saturday called on the US to give its support to Ankara "with no ifs or buts".
Germany, another NATO member, also withdrew its NATO base in Incirlik, Turkey, in June after Turkey refused a request by German lawmakers to visit their troops.