ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Russia has flown on Saturday a new shipment of advanced air defense equipment to Turkey. The Turkish Ministry of Defense has continued to implement an agreement that is likely to trigger US sanctions on a NATO ally.
FILE PHOTO: The first parts of a Russian S-400 missile defense system are on display after being unloaded by a Russian aircraft at Murted Airport, known as Akinci Air Base, near Ankara, Turkey, on July 12, 2019 , Turkish Military / Turkish Defense Ministry / Handout via REUTERS
The ministry said a fourth Russian cargo plane was at the Murted Air Base near the base of the day, after unloading three huge Russian Air Force AN-124 aircraft Turkish capital Ankara landed.
Washington has been trying for months to prevent the deal, arguing that the Russian air defense system S-400 is not compatible with NATO systems. If used in the vicinity of US F-35 jets that Turkey buys and supports production, the S-400s will undermine the defenses of stealth fighter jets.
US. Officials had warned that Turkey would be excluded from the F-35 program if the S-400 were delivered, and sanctions would be imposed under US law to prevent countries from buying military equipment from Russia.
Turkey says S-400 is a strategic defense requirement, especially to secure the southern borders with Syria and Iraq. It is said that the United States and Europe did not present a viable alternative to the agreement with Russia for the S-400.
The dispute between the countries with the two largest armies in NATO marks a deep split in the Western military alliance, which was forged after the Second World War to counteract Moscow's military power.
The response from Washington was limited on Friday. Acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the US stance has not changed. Esper later spoke with Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar.
"Minister Akar told his US counterpart that Turkey continues to face a serious air and missile threat, and that buying S-400 defense systems is not an option but a necessity," a statement by the Turkish Ministry of Defense said ,
Investors in Turkey were worried about the deal and the prospect of sanctions a year after a dispute with Washington over the trial of a US pastor in Turkey, which led to a financial crisis that put the Turkish economy in recession drove.
The Turkish lira declined 1.6% against the dollar to 5.7780 on Friday before bouncing back slightly.
The Russian news agency TASS quoted an unnamed military-diplomatic source on Friday stating that a further delivery of 120 guided weapons would take place by ship at the end of the summer.
Reporting by Dominic Evans; Editing by Mark Heinrich