The U.S. has strongly urged NATO member Turkey to pull back from the deal, warning the country that it will face economic sanctions.
By Associated Press
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 the capital, Ankara. Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said three planes carrying the equipment landed at the airfield on Friday, adding that the delivery would continue in the coming days.
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.
The acting U.S. secretary of defense, Mark Esper, said Washington was aware that Turkey began taking delivery of a Russian-made system.
Esper, who is expected to be officially nominated next week to be defense secretary, told reporters at the Pentagon that the U.S. remains unwilling to allow Turkey to acquire the U.S. F-35 stealth fighter, as long as it has the S-400.