"Turkey has expressed a strong interest in buying S-400 air defense systems from Russia," said Anatoly Aksenov, a senior adviser to the general director of Russian arms export monopoly Rosoboronexport.
Russia is exhibiting over 120 types of weaponry at the IDEF 2009 arms show in Istanbul on April 27-30. The biennial exhibition has been organized by the Turkish defense industry since 1993.
Aksenov, who leads the Russian delegation at the IDEF 2009 exhibition, said the possible deliveries of the S-400 to Turkey were discussed during talks with Turkey's undersecretary for defense industries, Murad Bayar.
A source in the Russian delegation later told RIA Novosti that the issue had a political aspect and strongly depended on the outcome of the ongoing dispute between Russia and NATO on the deployment of a U.S. missile shield in central Europe.
"We have explained to Turkish officials that S-400 is not just a simple air defense system but an element of strategic missile defenses, which can be placed in one country but protect the airspace over a number of neighboring countries," the source said.
The S-400 Triumf (SA-21 Growler) is designed to intercept and destroy airborne targets at a distance of up to 400 kilometers (250 miles), twice the range of the U.S. MIM-104 Patriot, and 2 1/2 times that of Russia's S-300PMU-2.
The system is also believed to be able to destroy stealth aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles, and is effective at ranges up to 3,500 kilometers (2,200 miles) and speeds up to 4.8 kilometers (3 miles) per second.
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The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.