The first shipment of the Russian S-400 anti-missile system has arrived in Turkey, despite U.S. warnings of sanctions for refusing to cancel the deal.
According to a statement issued by the Turkish Defense Ministry today, “the first group of equipment” of the air defense systems has reached an air base near the capital, Ankara.
The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly stated the Russian system is incompatible with NATO systems and poses a threat to the F-35. Washington warned that if NATO member Turkey failed to withdraw from its estimated $2 billion purchase from Moscow, it would face punitive economic measures under the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.”
The U.S. has also threatened to ban Turkish forces from participation in a hi-tech F-35 fighter jet program. Washington has already pulled the plug on training Turkish pilots on the stealth aircraft, over concerns installation of the S-400 technology would learn how to recognize the jets, which were designed to avoid tracking by enemy radar and heat sensors.
Ankara’s persistence in pushing through the S-400 deal ushers in a new phase of its public standoff with the U.S. Reuters reported Turkey risked upsetting its important NATO ally because it reached its deal with the Kremlin two years ago when no U.S. alternatives were available, and it was too late to back out by the time the U.S. presented a rival offer for the Patriot missile defense system.
In addition, relations between the two nations have been strained over the past several years over differing policies on multiple issues, including Syria where Russia is a very powerful player.
Ankara’s proposal to establish a working group to explore ramifications of the Russian system has so far failed to elicit a positive response from Washington – leaving open the possibility of a vast range of responses, the severity of which will ultimately be determined by U.S. President Donald Trump.