Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar reiterated on Monday that Turkey would take precautions to prevent sensitive NATO information from falling into Russian hands following the deployment of a Russian-made S-400 missile defense system, the Hürriyet Daily News reported.
The US government and other members of the world’s biggest military alliance have repeatedly expressed concerns that the S-400 system could result in a security breach, making it easier for Russia to target NATO aircraft.
US officials have threatened to suspend the sale of fifth-generation F-35 fighter jets to Turkey if Ankara goes ahead with the purchase of the S-400 system.
Speaking to reporters in Washington, Akar said the S-400 system would not be integrated with NATO assets.
“S-400s will probably be deployed to protect Ankara or Istanbul while F-35s will be deployed in Malatya,” Akar said.
The Turkish defense minister was in the US capital to attend an American-Turkish Council conference. He was scheduled to meet with Patrick Shanahan, the acting US secretary of defense, on Tuesday.
Rebutting the US argument that the S-400 and F-35 jets cannot be deployed in the same territory, Akar noted that Israel has deployed F-35s near Syria in proximity to Russian S-400 anti-aircraft weapon systems. A similar situation is in play in NATO-member Baltic states, he said.
Akar said in contrast to the Americans, the Russians have not raised concerns that the United States would steal sensitive information from the S-400s.
“We tell our American interlocutors: ‘You don’t trust us as much as Russians trust us’.”