Turkey has begun taking delivery of Russia’s S-400 air-defense system, the Turkish defense ministry said on Friday, completing a deal that has unnerved Turkey’s NATO allies and is likely to trigger sanctions from the United States, The Washington Postreported.
The first components for the system arrived at an air base in Ankara, the Turkish capital, on Friday, the defense ministry said in a statement.
There was no immediate reaction from the Trump administration, which had given mixed signals about how the United States might respond if Turkey went through with the deal. American officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, had warned of dire repercussions, including canceling sales of U.S.-made F-35 fighter jets to Ankara and the imposition of sanctions under a 2017 law on cooperation with adversaries.
But President Trump has been publicly supportive of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and last month expressed sympathy for Erdogan’s decision to purchase the S-400s. Erdogan, after meeting Trump at the Group of 20 Summit in June, said he did not believe that the United States would sanction Turkey.
Erdogan has defended his $2.5 billion acquisition of the Russian system as part of Turkey’s sovereign right to defend itself and said he tried to purchase the U.S.-made Patriot air defense system but was not offered favorable terms. His decision to pursue the deal with Russia, though, carried considerable risks, including exposing Turkish companies to possibly devastating sanctions as the country’s economy struggles.
2017 Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) mandates U.S. sanctions against anyone making a “significant” deal with the Russian defense industry. Under the legislation, Trump can also suspend the sanctions for up to 180 days after they are set in motion.
U.S. officials have fretted that Turkey’s possession of the S-400 could give Russia access to secrets of the F-35’s stealth technology. Last month, the Pentagon said it would halt the training of Turkish pilots to fly the warplane.
“Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 air and missile defense system remains incompatible with the F-35 program. Turkey will not be permitted to have both systems,” Lt. Col. Mike Andrews, a spokesman for the Pentagon, said in a statement last week.