Russian S-400 Air Defense System Arrives in Turkey, Defense Ministry Says

NATO ally U.S. threatened Ankara with sanctions over purchase of Russian system

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File photo: Russian S-400 missile defense system is displayed at the exposition field in Kubinka Patriot Park outside Moscow, August 22, 2017.
File photo: Russian S-400 missile defense system is displayed at the exposition field in Kubinka Patriot Park outside Moscow, August 22, 2017. Credit: AFP

Turkey's Defense Ministry said Friday the first shipment of a Russian missile defense system has arrived in Turkey, a development that could move the country closer to U.S. sanctions.

Turkey's acquisition of the Russian system is a source of tension between Turkey and NATO ally United States.

Haaretz Weekly Episode 33Credit: Haaretz

The S-400 consignment was delivered to the Murted Air Base outside the capital Ankara, the ministry said, in a statement which triggered a weakening in the Turkish lira to 5.7 against the dollar from 5.6775 on Wednesday.

>> Read more: Russian-Turkish S-400 deal may indirectly boost Israel’s military industry | Analysis

"The delivery of parts belonging to the system will continue in the coming days," Turkey's Defense Industry Directorate said separately. "Once the system is completely ready, it will begin to be used in a way determined by the relevant authorities."

The United States has warned Turkey it will face economic sanctions if it goes ahead with the purchase of a Russian missile defense system. It has also said Turkey won't be allowed to participate in the program to produce the high-tech F-35 fighter jets, a move President Tayyip Erdogan has dismissed.

Erdogan said after meeting President Donald Trump at a G20 summit last month that the United States did not plan to impose sanctions on Ankara for buying the S-400s. Trump said Turkey had not been treated fairly but did not rule out sanctions.

Washington has already started the process of removing Turkey from the F-35 program, halting training of Turkish pilots in the United States on the aircraft.

The United States says the S-400s are not compatible with NATO's defense network and could compromise its Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter jets, an aircraft Turkey is helping to build and planning to buy.

Turkey has refused to bow to U.S. pressure, insisting that choosing which equipment to purchase is a matter of national sovereignty.

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