Russian President Vladimir Putin showed off his country's advanced Su-57 stealth fighter to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Tuesday, just a month after Turkey was blocked from F-35 sales due to its purchase of the Russian S-400 anti-air missile system.
Putin led Erdogan across the tarmac to check out the single-seat Su-57 at the annual MAKS-2019 air show at Zhukovsky International Airport outside Moscow, Russian and Turkish news outlets reported.
Erdogan looked into the cockpit of the Su-57 on display and asked whether it was available for sale. Putin smiled and said, "Yes, you can buy it," according to the Associated Press.
Erdogan also met privately for more than an hour with Putin on developments in Syria, Turkey's Hurriyet newspaper reported.
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Despite repeated warnings from the U.S., Turkey went ahead with the estimated $2 billion purchase of the S-400 system; the first deliveries of Russia's most advanced anti-air missiles to Turkey began July 12.
At a White House Cabinet meeting July 16, President Donald Trump announced that Turkey's planned buy of up to 100 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters was being blocked.
Turkey was told "we're not going to sell you the F-35 fighter jets," Trump said, while leaving the door open to future sales if Turkey were to scale back on deploying the S-400 system, believed to be capable of tracking several targets simultaneously and at long range.
However, Turkey took delivery of a second batch of S-400 components Tuesday, the Anadolu news agency reported. The Turkish Defense Ministry said via Twitter, "The second batch of equipment of S-400 missile defense systems has arrived at Murted Air Base near Ankara."
Turkey's purchase went ahead despite warnings from the U.S. and other NATO allies that the S-400 is not compatible with existing NATO systems and could also pose a threat to the F-35.
During Putin and Erdogan's discussions, Turkey protested the push by forces of the Russian-backed regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad into the so-called "de-escalation zone" in northeastern Syria against the last rebel-held area around the city of Idlib. Turkey has military units inside northeastern Syria that could be threatened by the advance.
"It is unacceptable for the [Assad] regime to rain death on civilians from the air and from the ground under the pretext of fighting terrorism," Erdogan said, according to the AP.
Putin said he understands Turkey's security concerns but added, "The de-escalation zone can't serve as a refuge for militants and a platform for launching new attacks."
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.