Turkish president discussed buying Russian stealth jets to replace the US F-35
Russian President Vladimir Putin was seen buying ice cream for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, at the MAKS-2019 air show near Moscow.
Putin welcomed Erdogan to the event on August 29 to show Russia's latest fighter technology, enthusiastically showing off their close relationship amid worsening relations between Ankara and Washington DC.
As the two leaders waited for their ice cream, Erdogan asked Putin if he would buy both, to which Putin replied: "Of course. You're my guest, aren't you?" The president handed over a bill and instructed the ice cream server to hand over the change to the minister for aviation development.
During their talks, Russia and Turkey said they will deepen defense cooperation after President Putin showed off their latest stealth fighter jet to his Turkish counterpart Erdogan, who is locked in a dispute with his Nato ally Donald Trump over buying new US warplanes, reports National Post.
Putin told reporters on August 27 that Russia is ready to “actively discuss” further sales and also joint production of weapons following Turkey’s purchase of an advanced S-400 air-defence system that prompted the dispute with US President Trump.
"We discussed collaborating on the Su-35 fighter jet and possibly working together on the new Su-57 aircraft.” Putin said, after he and Erdogan inspected the cockpit of the fifth-generation warplane at the air show.
In reply, Erdogan said: "Turkey wants to continue cooperation in many areas of the defence industry with Russia, including fighter jets, and we’ll develop rapidly.” The two leaders also sought to ease a rift over fighting in Syria’s Idlib region.
Erdogan's visit follows a US decision last month to suspend Turkey's ability to purchase and assist the construction of the highly advanced F-35 stealth warplane. In retaliation, Turkey chose to defy Trump and take delivery of the S-400. Putin also said a second shipment of the S-400 started on Tuesday.
Turkey had planned to purchase about 100 F-35s from US, but in light of the ban, it will have to seek other alternatives. Following a crisis in 2015, when Turkish jets shot down a Russian warplane close to the Syrian border, Putin and Erdogan have strengthened economic and military ties as Turkey's relations with its ally in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization further deteriorates.
Flanked by their defense ministers, Putin and Erdogan visited the global airshow MAKS 2019, a showcase for Russian military technology, viewing displays of the SU-35, helicopters and amphibious aircrafts as well as the SU-57.
Putin and Erdogan tried to resolve disputes over the Syrian army's Kremlin backed offensive against rebels in the northwestern Idlib region, which is risking a new refugee exodus to Turkey.
Earlier in August, the Syrian military broke a cease fire over Idlib to launch an offensive in the last significant rebel redoubt against a one-time Al-Qaeda affiliate.
Putin said they had reached an understanding of taking "additional joint measures" aimed at stabilizing the scenario and neutralizing terrorist centers in Idlib, without providing further information.
"Russia supports the creation of a security zone on Turkey’s southern border with Syria, which will also help to maintain Syrian territorial integrity." Putin said.
“We can fulfil our responsibilities only if the regime ends its attacks in Idlib. The Syrian army’s attacks are forcing Turkey to adopt defensive action." Erdogan said.
While Turkey and Russia have returned to the Syrian conflict in opposing sides, they have cooperated with each other in an attempt to stop the fighting. On September 16, Erdogan will meet leaders from Russia and Iran in Ankara to discuss methods to hold back the Syrian army.
In spite of repeated calls from Moscow, Turkey has refrained from using force against the jihadists relying on the presence of Turkish soldiers in Idlib as a deterrent to a massive assault on the Sunni Muslim-majority city.