FILE PHOTO: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan greets supporters during a ceremony in Istanbul, Turkey, June 19, 2019. Picture: REUTERS / MURAD SEZER
FILE PHOTO: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan greets supporters during a ceremony in Istanbul, Turkey, June 19, 2019. Picture: REUTERS / MURAD SEZER

Istanbul — Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan says he does not expect the US to impose sanctions on Turkey over its planned purchase of a Russian missile defence system, but would retaliate if it did.

Speaking at a rare news conference for foreign media in Istanbul, Erdogan repeated that the purchase of Russian S-400 systems was a “done deal” and said the US should think carefully before imposing sanctions on Turkey, a Nato member.

“I say this very openly and sincerely, our relations with (President Donald) Trump are at a place that I can call really good. In the event of any issues, we immediately work the phones,” Erdogan said.

“I do not see any possibility of these sanctions happening,” he said. But he said Turkey would not remain silent if they were imposed. “The US has to think about this very carefully. We will have sanctions of our own.”

Erdogan said he would discuss the issue with Trump at the G20 summit in Japan at the end of June.

Turkey has been at loggerheads with the US for months over Ankara’s planned purchase of the Russian missile defence system, which Washington says is incompatible with Nato’s defence network and could compromise its F-35 fighter jets — an aircraft Turkey is helping build and planning to buy.

The US is threatening to impose sanctions on Turkey unless it scraps the plan to buy the Russian S-400s. Erdogan has refused to back down. On Thursday he said deliveries are likely to start within the first half of July.

Ankara has been pinning hopes on Trump to waive sanctions.

Erdogan said while he enjoyed good ties with Trump, he could not say the same about relations between Ankara and other US officials. “When we have talks with those below Trump, we see that many cannot agree with our officials, and one example is the S-400 issue,” he said.

Reuters