Despite protests from the US, the controversial delivery of Russian S-400 missiles to Turkey has begun. Russian transport planes flew the armaments to Murted Air Force Base outside Ankara. Further ingredients are expected to arrive in the coming days. “We are concerned about the possible consequences,” warned NATO.
By accepting the missiles, a sharp conflict with the US is at its peak. The US government is strictly against the purchase and use of the Russian system in NATO airspace and faces sanctions. Last year, US sanctions severely damaged the Turkish economy because of an American pastor detained in Turkey. Among other things, the government in Washington fears that Russia will be able to obtain data on the capabilities of the new US stealth aircraft F-35 via the sensitive S-400 radars. Turkey is a partner in the construction of the F-35 and should get around 100 jets. The US is now threatening to throw Turkey out of the F-35 program, despite payments of more than $ 1 billion already made in late July. Economic sanctions are also under discussion.
Whether the sanctions will actually come is unclear. On the one hand, Congress has to decide. On the other hand, US President Donald Trump had suggested at the end of June to refrain from sanctions against Turkey.
In any case, Turkey is trying to dispel the concerns of the NATO partner. Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu repeatedly said that the system is used only in an emergency and will not be networked with other systems.
Coming third in the gun business is Russia. President Vladimir Putin is pleased to sell the Turks a $2.5 billion weapons system. Incidentally, he is driving a gap in NATO with the S400 missiles and has changed the military balance in the eastern Mediterranean, where the Russians themselves are active, through the arms deal.
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