Erdogan defends testing Russian S-400, shrugs off US criticism | Middle East

Washington has threatened sanctions, arguing Ankara’s purchase of the Russian weapons system compromises NATO defences.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday confirmed Turkey’s first test of a controversial Russian missile defence system, as he dismissed criticism by the United States.

“It is true about the tests, they have been done and will continue,” he told reporters in Istanbul on Friday, a week after reports emerged of the Turkish army conducting a test firing of the S-400 system. “We’re not going to ask America for permission.”

The US State Department and Pentagon had responded furiously to reports of the test.

State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said last Friday that, if confirmed, Washington would consider them “incompatible with Turkey’s responsibilities as a NATO ally and strategic partner of the United States”.

Washington says Ankara’s purchase of Russian S-400 systems compromises NATO defences and has threatened sanctions.

Turkey faces sanctions under a 2017 law known as CAATSA, which mandates sanctions for any “significant” purchases of weapons from Russia.

Last year, the US suspended Turkey from its F-35 jet programme.

During a visit to Turkey earlier this month, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg reiterated that the system could not be integrated into the alliance’s air and missile defence system.

However, Ankara accuses Washington of failing to sell the US’s competing Patriot missile systems and has pointed to its security needs while justifying buying the Russian system.

Turkey signed the S-400 deal with Russia in 2017. Deliveries of the first four missile batteries, worth $2.5bn, began in July 2019.

Turkey initially said the S-400 would be operational in April but it has since delayed activating the system.

The S-400 tests come at a particularly tense time in Turkey’s relationships with NATO allies – the US, France and Germany – after Ankara resumed gas exploration this month in waters disputed by another alliance member, Greece.

source.



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