- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country is determined to buy and field a Russian-made missile-defense system, despite efforts by the White House to head off the deal.

Speaking at a rally in Istanbul on Tuesday, Mr. Erdogan again slammed the Trump administration’s efforts to sway Turkey from pressing ahead with the purchase of the S-400 missile defense system. During the rally, the Turkish leader said the White House had only itself to blame for not supporting Turkey’s defense needs or heeding its complaints about developments in neighboring Syria.

“Now [Washington], you tell us to give up purchasing the S-400 [but] … don’t provide us joint production and financial support” to field the American-built Patriot missile, Mr. Erdogansaid. “Having the S-400 from Russia is an outcome of this pursuit,” he added, Voice of America reported.

His comments come days after Vice President Mike Pence issued a stern warning

warning to Turkey over its pursuit of advanced Russian weaponry, which many in NATO fear will give Moscow an inside glimpse into the alliance’s capabilities and defense technology.

“We will not stand idly by while NATO allies purchase weapons from our adversaries,” Mr. Pence said, without referring explicitly to Turkey. “We cannot ensure the defense of the West if our allies grow dependent on the East,” he added during a speech at the Munich Security Conference on Sunday.

Turkey was reportedly motivated to seal the missile deal with Russia in part by its frustration over Washington’s backing of Kurdish militant groups battling the Islamic State in Syria.

Russia has aggressively marketed the S-400 system to U.s. adversaries and allies alike, including countries such as Iraq and India.

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