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US sanctions loom over Turkey as more Russian S-400 parts arrive Open in fullscreen

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US sanctions loom over Turkey as more Russian S-400 parts arrive

Washington fears Turkey will use the Russian equiopment to gather intelligence [Getty]

Date of publication: 13 July, 2019

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Russian-made air defence components continued to arrive in Turkey on Saturday, despite Washington threatening sanctions over a military deal between Ankara and Moscow.
Turkey on Saturday continued receiving components of a Russian-made air defence system, despite Washington threatening sanctions over the purchase.

Turkey's defence ministry tweeted the landing of a fourth Russian cargo plane in Murted Air Base, near the capital, Ankara. On Friday, the ministry announced the much-awaited delivery of S-400 components had begun.

The US has repeatedly warned it will impose economic sanctions and kick Turkey, a fellow NATO member, out of the F-35 stealth fighter jet programme if Ankara does not drop its S-400 purchase. Turkey has refused to bow to US pressure, saying its defence purchase is a matter of national sovereignty.

The Trump administration was publicly silent on Friday on how it would respond to the delivery, with the Pentagon postponing a news conference.

Acting US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper and his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar spoke by phone. While the Pentagon declined to discuss the call, the Turkish ministry released a statement late on Friday, saying Akar stressed that the purchase of S-400 defense systems "was not an option but rather a necessity" due to Turkey's security concerns.

The statement said there was no change in Turkey's "strategic orientation", adding that a deterioration in relations would not serve the interests of Turkey, the US or NATO.

The minister also emphasised Turkey's commitment to the F-35 programme and repeated a proposal for a joint working group to study how the S-400 system would interact with the fighter jets.

The US is concerned the S-400 could be used to gather data on F-35 capabilities if Turkey has both.

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