Russia will begin the delivery of S-400 surface-to-air missile defense systems to Turkey under an agreement concluded between the two countries late last year.
“Turkey expressed a wish to accelerate its implementation and we managed to find the most appropriate solution as we agreed to accelerate the contract’s implementation, so I think we will begin to fulfill it sometime in early 2020,” Russian Presidential Aide on Military Cooperation Vladimir Kozhin told state-owned Russian-language Rossiya 24 television news network on Monday.
Turkey’s English-language Hurriyet Daily News newspaper reported on December 29 that the loan deal for four S-400 surface-to-air missile batteries had been signed in the Turkish capital Ankara.
The developments came only two days after Sergey Viktorovich Chemezov, the Chief Executive Officer of Russian state corporation Rostec, told the Kommersant daily newspaper that Russia would supply Turkey with four batteries of S-400, worth $2.5 billion each, and Moscow was expected to begin the first deliveries in March 2020.
Chemezov added that Turkey would pay 45 percent of the cost of the agreement up front, while Russia would provide loans to cover the remaining 55 percent.
The United States has reportedly warned Turkey against the consequences of its decision to buy S-400 surface-to-air missile batteries from Russia, saying Washington could slap Ankara with sanctions over such a purchase.
An American official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Turkey’s plan to buy the Russian S-400 missile system would potentially expose Ankara to a new sanctions law recently passed by Congress, Turkish-language daily Haberturk reported.
On August 2, 2017, US President Donald Trump signed into law the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) that imposed sanctions on Iran, Russia and North Korea.
The S-400, whose full name is the Triumf Mobile Multiple Anti-Aircraft Missile System (AAMS), is an advanced Russian missile system designed to detect, track, and destroy planes, drones, or missiles as far as 402 kilometers away. It has previously been sold only to China and India.
Turkey is striving to boost its air defense, particularly after Washington decided in 2015 to withdraw its Patriot surface-to-air missile system from Turkey’s border with Syria, a move that weakened Turkey’s air defense.
Before gravitating towards Russia, the Turkish military reportedly walked out of a $3.4 billion contract for a similar Chinese system. The withdrawal took place under purported pressure from Washington.
Ankara’s ties with its Western allies in NATO have been strained over a range of issues.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been critical of Washington for supporting Kurdish groups in Syria that he says are responsible for terror attacks inside Turkey.
Erdogan has also slammed American officials for rejecting his requests to hand over Fethullah Gulen, a powerful opposition figure living in the US.