The Associated PressANKARA (AP) — The first shipment of a Russian missile defense system has arrived in Turkey, the Turkish Defense Ministry said Friday, moving the country closer to possible U.S. sanctions and a new standoff with Washington.
A Defense Ministry statement said “the first group of equipment” of the S-400 air defense systems has reached the Murted Air Base near Ankara. The delivery of parts of the system will continue in the coming days and authorities will decide “how it will be used” once the system is made operational, Turkey’s defense industry authority said in a statement.
The Russian Federal Service for Military Cooperation, which handles arms exports, confirmed to the state-owned RIA Novosti news agency that the first shipment to Turkey was dispatched on Friday. The S-400 will be delivered “in the agreed timeframe,” the service said.
The U.S. has strongly urged NATO member Turkey to pull back from the deal — reportedly costing more than $2 billion — warning the country that it will face economic sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act if it goes ahead with the purchase. It has also said Turkey won’t be allowed to participate in the program to produce high-tech F-35 fighter jets.
Although U.S. President Donald Trump expressed sympathy toward Turkey’s decision to purchase the Russian system during a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of a G-20 meeting in Japan, Washington has repeatedly said that the Russian system is incompatible with NATO systems and is a threat to the F-35.
Sanctions would mark a new low in the already-tense relations between Turkey and the U.S. Last year, the United States imposed sanctions on Turkey over its detention of an American pastor, triggering a Turkish currency crisis.
The deal with Russia — the first such deal between Russia and a NATO member — has also raised concerns that Turkey is drifting closer to Moscow’s sphere of influence.