Turkey on July 12 received the first shipment of the Russian S-400 air defense systems, the Defense Ministry has announced.
“The first batch of equipment of the S-400 long-range regional air missile defense system, which is procured to meet Turkey’s air and missile defense needs, has started to arrive at Mürted Air Base in Ankara as of July 12, 2019,” the ministry said in a written press statement.
The first cargo flight from Russia arrived at the Mürted Air Base in the capital Ankara, delivering two batches of S-400s.
The delivery of the S-400s will continue in the upcoming days, Turkey’s Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB) on July 12 said in a written statement.
“The system will start operation as soon as it is completely ready, as will be decided by concerned authorities,” SSB’s statement added.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on July 12 said the delivery process is proceeding as planned, without facing any troubles.
“This is a done deal and the process is in its course. We are coordinating these – whether it is permissions for the flight or the personnel to come. Our Defense Ministry has made the necessary announcements,” Çavuşoğlu said in a joint press conference with his Swiss counterpart Ignazio Cassis.
“There is no problem. The process will carry on in a healthy way,” Çavuşoğlu added.
Meanwhile, Bülent Turan, deputy chair of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) said Turkey bought the Russian S-400 air defense system not intending to attack but to defend the country.
“The start of shipments of Russian S-400s is a result of Turkey’s firm stance based on its sovereignty rights,” Turan told Anadolu Agency.
Turkey purchased the S-400 air defense systems for its security needs, said Turan.
He called on the international community to respect Turkey’s sovereignty rights.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitriy Peskov also confirmed the delivery.
“Everything is being carried out in accordance with the agreement. The parties are fulfilling their obligations,” Peskov said on July 12.
Furthermore, a second Russian flight to deliver the second batch of equipment is expected in the following days and the third shipment “containing more than 120 guided missiles of various types” will be dispatched by sea, according to a military source, Russia’s state-run TASS news agency reported on July 12.
NATO, on the other hand, said that the S-400 arrival in Turkey is “concerning,” Agence France-Presse reported on July 12.
“We are concerned about the potential consequences of Turkey’s decision to acquire the S-400 system,” a NATO official said.
Talks over the S-400 systems between Ankara and Moscow commenced in November 2016.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in September 2017 announced that Turkey and Russia signed an agreement regarding the procurement of S-400s.
Tensions between the United States and Turkey have escalated in recent months over the purchase of the Russian-made S-400s, which Washington has said will jeopardize Turkey’s role in the F-35 fighter jet program and could trigger sanctions.
Following protracted efforts to purchase an air defense system from the United States with no success, Ankara decided in 2017 to purchase the Russian system.
U.S. officials urged Turkey to buy U.S. Patriot missiles, arguing S-400s would be incompatible with NATO systems and expose the F-35s to possible Russian subterfuge.
Washington has warned Turkey that moving forward with the purchase would trigger sanctions under the Countering American Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA, which was passed in 2017 to impose sanctions on Iran, North Korea and Russia and combat those countries’ influences across the globe.__Hurriyet