Turkey received first shipment of Russian S-400 missile defense system hardware from Russia on Friday, July 12, the Turkish Defense Ministry announced. "The first batch of equipment of S-400 missile defense system, which is procured to meet Turkey's air and missile defense needs, has started to arrive at Murted Air Base in Ankara," the ministry said in a statement.
The second Russian military transport aircraft carrying the S-400 missile systems will depart for Turkey soon, according to the Russian news agency TA How to Use CommonsSearch SS. "The Russian Aerospace Force's military transport aircraft carrying parts of a S-400 regiment set has arrived in Turkey. Another plane will soon deliver the second batch of equipment to the country," TASS quoted a diplomatic source as saying. "The third batch, containing more than 120 guided missiles of various types, will be dispatched later by sea. It is expected to happen at the end of the summer," the agency added.
Turkish S-400 operators plan to train Turkish military service members this month and in August, according to TASS. In May, about 20 Turkish service members underwent training at a Russian training center.
The S-400 Triumph, which became operational in 2007, is designed to destroy aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles, including medium-range ones. The S-400 system can hit targets at a distance of around 250 miles and at an altitude up to around 22 miles.
US officials also pressured Turkey to buy the more expensive, US-made Patriot missiles instead. "S-400 is at least twice as cheap as the US system Patriot-2," UK military expert Richard Connolly at Birmingham University told DW's Russian service. "The Russians and before them the Soviet Union were always leading in missile technology," he added. "The reason for that was that the Americans and the West produced better aircraft."
Less than two weeks ago, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that US President Donald Trump reassured him there will be no sanctions over buying the S-400s. "We heard from him that there won't be anything like this (sanctions)," Erdogan told a press conference in Osaka, Japan, following a meeting with Trump on the sidelines of the G20 summit. "It is out of the question that such a thing takes place between two strategic allies. I believe it cannot happen," Erdogan said.
Statements by US officials, however, contradict him. "By accepting delivery of the S-400 from Russia, President Erdogan has chosen a perilous partnership with Putin at the expense of Turkey's security, economic prosperity and the integrity of the NATO alliance," the Wall Street Journal reported a joint statement by Sens. Jim Risch (R., Idaho), Bob Menendez (D., N.J.), Jim Inhofe (R., Okla.) and Jack Reed (D., R.I.).
During a visit to NATO
headquarters in Belgium late last month, acting Secretary of Defense Mark Esper
said: "If Turkey accepts delivery of the S-400, they will not
Implications for US-Turkey relations
events in the coming weeks could determine the future of US-Turkish
relations, and raise questions about Turkey's long-term role in the North
Atlantic Treaty Organization as Russia attempts to build on its own influence
in the country in a bid to weaken the alliance, the Wall Street Journal said
decision to source critical weapons from Russia is a setback for the U.S.,
which courted Ankara throughout the Cold War for its strategic location on the
southwestern flank of the Soviet
"The S-400 issue has further roiled years of frayed U.S.-Turkey relations. U.S. officials still recall a key breaking point in 2003 when Turkish officials refused to allow U.S. troops to use Turkey as a launch pad for the invasion of Iraq. American presidents have tried repeatedly to reset relations with Turkey, only to hit new snags," the Wall Street Journal argued and said:
President Obama's initial strong relationship with Mr. Erdogan was strained by
the U.S. decision to arm and train Syrian Kurdish fighters in the battle
against Islamic State that Turkey views as terrorists. The same issue has
dogged relations between Messrs. Trump and Erdogan. The
relationship also was strained by an American refusal to deport a U.S.-based
cleric whom Mr. Erdogan accuses of fomenting a failed coup in 2016 that led Mr. Erdogan to impose mass arrests and purges. The cleric, Fethullah Gulen, denies
the accusation. Last
summer, Washington imposed sanctions on Turkey when Ankara failed to release an
American pastor who had been detained as part of the post-coup
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