Cargo planes carrying the first of the Russian S-400 missile defence systems Ankara has purchased from Moscow departed a Russian airbase and are set to arrive in Turkey on Monday or Tuesday (July 15th or 16th), Turkish newspaper Habertürk reported.
Separately, Turkish aviation news website Kokpit reported the same.
The initial S-400 delivery has been sent on two cargo planes from a Russian military base, said Habertürk, and a Russian technical team is set to arrive in Turkey on Monday to oversee installation.
Kokpit added that the shipment had departed from the western Russian city of Tver.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on July 8th said the S-400 air defense missiles were being prepared to be flown to Turkey.
“The preparations for the journey, the loading [of the S-400] is continuing … The S-400 will arrive by planes,” Erdoğan told reporters prior to leaving for Bosnia.
Soner Çağaptay, a Beyer Fellow and Director of Turkish Program at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said he has heard the delivery is slated for July 17th.
Hearing that the first delivery of Russian-made S-400s missile defense systems to Turkey will be taking place tomorrow…
— Soner Cagaptay (@SonerCagaptay) July 9, 2019
The report arrives amid ongoing tensions between Washington and Ankara over Turkey’s planned purchase of the S-400 system. U.S. officials have warned that Turkey would face economic sanctions as well as being expelled from a programme to produce the F-35 fighter jets if it goes through with the purchase.
On July 10th, Turkish Foreign Minister spokesperson Hami Aksoy said that a statement made by the US State Department on July 9th about Turkey’s purchase of the air defense system was incompatible with a previous meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump during the G-20 Osaka summit that took place between June 28-29th.
“The statement made by the US State Department spokesperson on July 9th regarding our procurement of the S-400 air defense system does not conform with the content and spirit of the meeting between the two Presidents at the G20 Summit.
The conditions that led Turkey to procure S400 are well known. President Trump confirmed this at the G20 Summit and made it clear that our country was not fairly treated.
From the very beginning, Turkey has shown a transparent approach on this matter. We have proposed to establish a technical working group, that could include NATO, to address U.S. concerns regarding the potential effects of the S400 system on F35s. However, our proposal has been left unanswered so far.
We call upon the U.S. side to refrain from taking wrong steps, that would harm relations, by excluding diplomacy and dialogue,” Aksoy said.
US State Department spokesperson Megan Ortagus said the following at a press briefing, which Hami Aksoy referred to:
“Our position here at the State Department as it relates to Turkey and the S-400 has not changed. We – again, everybody knows – the Turkish authorities know – the legislation that has been passed in Congress as it relates to CAATSA, and all of that remains the same. We have said that Turkey, as you pointed out, will face real and negative consequences if they accept the S-400. Those consequences include participation in the F-35 program. I think that the Secretary and this department have been incredibly consistent about that over – at least since I’ve been here and over the past year since the Secretary has been here, so there is nothing that I’ve said or that the Secretary has said that has changed as it relates to that.”
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