Russia Says S-400 Defense System Will Be Delivered to NATO-member Turkey in July

Arrival of Russian missile defense system could trigger NATO sanctions on Ankara

S-400 "Triumph" surface-to-air missile system after its deployment at a military base outside the town of Gvardeysk, Russia, March 11, 2019.
\ Vitaly Nevar/ REUTERS

Russia plans to deliver its S-400 missile defense systems to Turkey in July, Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov told reporters on Tuesday.

NATO member Turkey's S-400 deal with Moscow has angered the United States, which has threatened to remove Ankara from its F-35 fighter jet programme unless Turkey pulls out of the deal.

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"The agreements reached between Russia and Turkey are being fulfilled on time in the given context. There are no bilateral problems," Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov told reporters on Tuesday. Asked if the missiles would be delivered in July, he said: "Yes, that's what we plan somehow." 

The comments came days after the head of Russian state conglomerate Rostec, Sergei Chemezov, said Moscow would start delivering S-400 missile systems to Turkey in two months, contradicting several Turkish officials who said the delivery could take place as soon as June. 

On Monday, Turkey complained that the United States had not yet taken up its suggestion of creating a joint working group to try to defuse tensions over Ankara's purchase of the S-400s. 

In the meantime, training by Turkish pilots on F-35 fighter jets came to a halt at a U.S. air base in Arizona, U.S. officials said on Monday. If Turkey were removed from the F-35 program, it would be one of the most significant ruptures in recent history in the relationship with the United States, experts said.

But strains in U.S.-Turkish ties already extend beyond the F-35 to include conflicting strategy in Syria, Iran sanctions and the detention of U.S. consular staff in Turkey.

The showdown comes as the Russia-backed Syrian army escalates an assault on some Turkish-backed rebels near Turkey’s border. More broadly in the Middle East, the United States is ramping up pressure on Turkey and other nations to isolate Iran including blocking all Iranian oil exports.

Credit ratings agency Fitch warned on Tuesday that any U.S. sanctions on Turkey would have a "significant impact" on sentiment around the Turkish lira, which has sold off since late March in part due to the spat with Washington over the missile defence system