Turkey expects delivery of Russian S-400 air defense systems to start in July

Turkish president Erdogan gave an indication of the timeframe for the Russian-made S-400 missile defense system’s arrival, a purchase that should see the country kicked out of F-35 fighter jet program, U.S. president Trump warned.

Turkey expects delivery of Russian S 400 air defense systems to start in July
5P85SM2-01 TEL S-400 (Picture source: Vitaly Kuzmin)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he expects Russia to begin delivering the S-400 Triumf missile defense systems (SA-21 Growler in NATO denomination)  in the first half of July. Turkey’s push to buy the S-400 system has strained relations between the NATO allies, with the US worried it could give Russia access to sensitive technical knowledge if operated alongside its Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II jets. The country faces potentially crippling economic sanctions if it goes ahead with the purchase. Nevertheless, “We discussed the S-400 subject with Russia. Indeed the S-400 issue is settled,” Erdogan reportedly told journalists on his plane returning from a visit to Tajikistan, where he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “I think they will start to come in the first half of July,” he added.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Friday warned that Ankara would respond if the US slaps sanctions on the country over the plan to purchase the system: “If the United States takes any negative actions toward us, we will also take reciprocal steps,” Cavusoglu said before adding that his country won’t bow to “ultimatums” after the US warned Turkey it could exclude it from the F-35 program in case of delivery of the Russian defense system.

US Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said in a letter to his Turkish counterpart last week that the training of Turkish pilots will end on July 31 and that Turkey wouldn’t be allowed to take final possession of the four F-35 aircraft it bought. Shanahan also warned that Ankara’s purchase of the Russian system could hamper America’s future relationship with Turkey. Might Turkey’s membership of NATO finally become at stake? No doubt President Putin would be more than happy.


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