First set of Russian S-400 missiles arrive in Turkey
dpa, Hamburg, Germany
Turkey accepted the first shipment of a Russian surface-to-air S-400 defence system at a military airport in Ankara on Friday, thereby defying warnings and threats of sanctions from the United States.
“The first phase of the S-400 delivery has started with a plane that has landed in Ankara,” the Turkish Defence Industry Directorate, which reports to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said on its website.
The directorate added that the delivery would continue in the coming days. It was not immediately clear when the system would be installed and activated for use.
The Russian government also confirmed the delivery.
The purchase has become a bone of contention between NATO allies Ankara and Washington, with the White House strongly opposed to the system’s use in NATO airspace citing practical and security concerns.
Washington has threatened to impose sanctions and remove Turkey from the F-35 joint strike fighter programme if Ankara accepts delivery of the air defence system.
Washington fears that Russia could spy on the advanced US F-35 stealth fighter jet through the S-400 radars. Turkey is a partner in F-35 production and expects to buy more than 100 jets.
“The process is under way as planned,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Ankara. “We have coordinated the process, including permissions for planes and the personnel [that will accompany the equipment.”
State broadcaster TRT showed footage of what it said was a Russian Antonov cargo aircraft at Murted military airport in Ankara. Having landed at 10 am (0700 GMT), the aircraft is preparing to take off back to Russia, the broadcaster said.
TRT’s report added that the system would be assembled at Murted airport and installed in several locations across Turkey that have yet to be determined.
Earlier in the day, Turkey’s Defence Ministry said “the first group of equipments of the S-400 long-range regional air and missile defence system has started to Murted airport.”
Erdogan confirmed on Monday that preparations for the shipment of the weapons system were under way, and said on Wednesday that Turkey would use the system “wherever and however we need them.”
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