Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said the military cooperation between his country and Turkey would not be deterred by the sanctions imposed by the United States on Ankara over its acquisition of a Russian missile defence system.
“Relations between Russia and Turkey are self-sustainable and self-sufficient, they don’t depend on someone’s aggressive and hostile actions and whims,” Lavrov said on Tuesday.
“They [their relations] are based on the national interests of each of our countries and on our determination to continue mutual cooperation and mutual benefit by searching for a balance of interests.”
The US earlier this month punished Turkey for buying Russia’s S-400 air defence system, imposing rare sanctions against a NATO ally, with officials in Washington saying Ankara’s purchase of the missile system constituted a threat to the security alliance.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the time assured Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu that the US sanctions were intended to prevent Russia from receiving substantial revenues from the sale.
On Tuesday, Cavusoglu visited Moscow for talks with his counterpart Lavrov, who told reporters that “we have confirmed our mutual intention to develop military ties with Turkey”.
He added that President Vladimir Putin appreciated Turkey’s determination to “continue cooperation in this area despite continuing illegitimate pressure from Washington”.
Cavusoglu said the US sanctions against Turkey were “an act of aggression against our country’s sovereign rights,” adding that Ankara would not give in to pressure.
“We prefer to solve all issues including that of the S-400 through negotiations,” Cavusoglu said. “After introducing the sanctions, the US announced it favours dialogue. We’ve never been against dialogue.”
Turkey last year took delivery of the $2.5bn system, defying warnings that such military cooperation was incompatible with NATO and would let Russia improve its targeting of US stealth planes.
Cavusoglu also told a joint news conference with Lavrov that Turkey’s relations with Russia are not an alternative to its ties with NATO and the European Union.
The EU has also prepared punitive steps over Turkey’s dispute with members Greece and Cyprus over the Mediterranean offshore rights.
Although Russia and Turkey are rivals in several conflicts including Libya and Syria, Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan seek to maintain good relations.
The two countries are jointly monitoring a Russian-mediated truce over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region after a six-week war between Armenia and Azerbaijan that claimed more than 6,000 lives.
Tensions between the two nations had risen over Nagorno-Karabakh while the fighting was ongoing, with Russia accusing Turkey of deploying Syrian fighters to combat Armenian forces in the contested region.
Earlier this month, Turkish police briefly arrested two Russian journalists in Istanbul for allegedly filming a drone production unit without permission.