Russia will start delivering parts of its S-400 air defence missile systems to Turkey in July, the Kremlin announced yesterday.
The delivery of the equipment, which has become a flashpoint in US-Turkey relations, will take place in July “just as planned”, Yuri Ushakov, a foreign policy aide to President Vladimir Putin, said. He added: “The agreements reached between Russia and Turkey are being fulfilled on time in the given context. There are no bilateral problems.”
The US has strongly objected to the purchase of the S-400 system, which is not compatible with NATO systems and could cause inter-operability problems between Turkey and other members of the transatlantic alliance. In a letter to Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar, acting US Secretary of Defence Patrick Shanahan said: “Turkey’s procurement of the S-400 will hinder your nation’s ability to enhance or maintain cooperation with the United States and within NATO.”
On Monday the US House of Representatives passed a resolution titled “Expressing concern for the United States-Turkey alliance,” which calls for sanctions if Ankara goes ahead with the deployment of the S-400 system.
In April, the Pentagon halted the delivery of equipment related to F-35 aircraft to Turkey. Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said: “There is no future for Turkey having both Russian weapons and American F-35s. There’s no third option.” On Friday, the US Air Force pulled 26 Turkish military personnel from its F-35 fighter jet training programme due to “safety” concerns stemming from the ongoing dispute.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said yesterday: “It is unacceptable to take decisions which do not serve to increase mutual trust, to continue to keep the language of threats and sanctions on the agenda and to set various artificial deadlines.”