Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in an exclusive interview with CBS News this week that his government intends to challenge the United States and move forward with the purchase of another anti-defense system. -Russian-made anti-aircraft missile, despite repeated warnings that it endangers the security of the NATO alliance.
Erdogan confirmed his plans to CBS News chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Brennan after she asked him about Russian government claims that Turkey would buy more S-400 systems.
“I explained everything to President Biden,” Erdogan said in an interview recorded Tuesday on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, claiming that the United States’ refusal to sell Turkey the Patriots system of American manufacture as an alternative had led his government to buy the Russian system instead. The United States disputed this assertion.
The Trump and Biden administrations have maintained that the Russian S-400 system is a danger if activated in the same country that flies F-35 jets. The US government has said the S-400 will collect detailed information on the F-35s, possibly erasing their stealth advantages. Turkey had previously purchased F-35 jets, which gave the NATO member a role in their production. But in retaliation for Turkey’s purchase of the S-400, the Trump administration halted its delivery of the F-35s, pulled Turkey out of the program and imposed sanctions on Turkish defense officials.
Despite this, Erdogan remained defiant.
“So it looks like you’re still planning to buy another set of these S-400s, these Russian missile systems?” Brennan asked. “So the sanctions will stay? “
“In the future, no one will be able to interfere in terms of what kind of defense systems we acquire, from what country, at what level. No one can interfere with that. We are the only ones making such decisions,” replied Erdogan.
“It sounds like a yes.” Brennan said.
“Of course, of course, yes.” said Erdogan. He then confirmed that he planned to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the end of the month. The two are expected to discuss a number of issues, including Syria. During the interview, Erdogan also told CBS News that he would prefer the United States to withdraw its remaining 900 troops in neighboring Syria. Turkish forces have remained in the north of the country since its military incursion to fight allied Kurdish forces in the United States, after Trump attempted to withdraw all American troops in the fall of 2019.
This is just one of many irritants in relations between the United States and Turkey, which remains a key power in the Middle East and a member of NATO. As a presidential candidate, Biden told the New York Times editorial board in January 2020 that Erdogan was “an autocrat,” and cited his extensive powers and abuse of power. Erdogan appeared to fend off criticism.
“Mr. President’s definition of an autocrat is unknown to me, I don’t know what he meant,” Erdogan told Brennan. He also said Mr Biden never shared his concerns about human rights abuses with him in their personal conversations. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne did not respond to CBS News’s request for comment.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists’ Global Ranking Index 2020, Turkey is the second-worst jailer of journalists – just behind China – and worse than Iran and Saudi Arabia. Erdogan’s government has also arrested and charged some 36,000 people in Turkey that it accused of criticizing him or of being linked to figures he believes responsible for the coup attempt to overthrow him in 2016. .
Mr Biden last met Erdogan in Brussels in June. At the time, it seemed like there might be an opportunity for a breakthrough in the troubled relationship. Erdogan told CBS News that it was Biden who asked him to consider Turkish forces running the Kabul airport following the US withdrawal. It was a key opportunity, and Erdogan said he was open to the idea provided there was logistical and financial support.
“This includes financial and material support, ammunition, vehicles and weapons would have been transferred to us. But such things have happened and the exact opposite has happened,” Erdogan said.
The US withdrawal and the chaotic manner in which it unfolded also left NATO troops scrambling. Turkey, which has NATO’s second largest army, has also withdrawn from the country.
“The artillery, ammunition, weapons and vehicles at Karzai Airport have all been transferred to the Taliban, and the Taliban are currently using all these weapons and vehicles, and we have to see all of these facts for what. they are, “he said.
Since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan last month, Qatar and Turkey have offered to provide technical support to their new government to keep their airports operational. This gave Turkey the chance to be a power broker and essentially provide the Taliban with a lifeline for the rest of the world. Erdogan said that at this point there was no agreement to work with the Taliban.
In an interview that will air on “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Erdogan laid out what he described as his demands for doing business with the Taliban.