During Vladimir Putin’s first foreign visit since his election last month, the Russian and Turkish presidents agreed to broaden military cooperation, and launched the construction of the country’s first nuclear power plant.
At a press conference in Ankara, Putin announced that Russia would push forward its delivery dates for the S-400 defense systems, which are now due after a contract was signed between the two countries in December, despite objections from Turkey’s NATO allies.
“We are speeding up production, and we have finalized the prices, which is very important,” Putin said, while standing next to Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “In terms of shortening the delivery schedule, we have done this at the request of our Turkish friends and partners.”
Putin did not specify when Ankara would receive Moscow’s most sophisticated export air defense system, but said that there were “no political or strategic limitations” to technology-sharing that could eventually see Turkey produce its own version of the radar and rocket complex, and said that producers of other weapons systems were keen to enter the local market.
“The distance we have covered in our relations with Russia in the last 15 years is very important,” said Erdogan.
Earlier, the two leaders participated via video link in the joint ground-breaking of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant on the country’s southern coast, which will be built by a Russian company at a cost of $20 billion, which is expected to be sourced via a joint consortium.
“We are not just kick-starting the construction of Turkey’s first nuclear plant, we are founding Turkey’s nuclear sector,” said the Russian president, of a project that had been mooted over the past three years.
“We aim to produce the first energy unit in 2023. We will be doing so on the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey. When all units are in operation, the nuclear plant will supply 10 percent of Turkey’s electricity demand.”
The two sides confirmed their commitment to the in-progress $12 billion Turkstream gas pipeline project, the overland segment of which, according to Russian officials, is still awaiting a permit from Turkish authorities. Additionally, Moscow and Ankara have announced the creation of a joint state investment fund, valued at an initial $1 billion, which will look for economic opportunities that benefit both countries.