US concerned over Turkey’s S-400 purchase from Russia

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MOSCOW, RUSSIA - MAY 7 : S-400 Triumph Air Defence Missile System during the rehearsal for a military parade at the Red Sqaure in Moscow, Russia, on May 7, 2017. The Victory Day parade on 09 May 2017 marks the 72th anniversary since the capitulation of Nazi Germany in World War II. AFP

Pentagon spokesman Johnny Michael said on Tuesday that the US has relayed its concerns to Turkish officials over the purchase of an S-400 air defense system from Russia.

In a written statement to CNBC on Tuesday, Michael said that a NATO inter-operable missile defense system remains the best option to defend Turkey from the full range of threats in the region and added, “We have relayed our concerns to Turkish officials regarding the potential purchase of the S-400.”

According to the Hürriyet daily, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Tuesday that Ankara has signed a deal with Russia to buy the S-400 missile defense system despite opposition from NATO allies.

Signatures have been affixed for the purchase of S-400s from Russia. A deposit has also been paid as far as I know,” Erdoğan said.

According to AFP, Moscow confirmed the agreement, with Vladimir Kozhin, Putin’s adviser for military and technical cooperation, saying, “The contract has been signed and is being prepared for implementation.”

Erdoğan also lashed out at those questioning Turkey buying a Russian air defense system and suggested Ankara would make its own decisions on what to buy, regardless of NATO’s wishes.

Commenting on the issue in an email statement to CNBC, NATO spokesman Mark Sanders said: “It is up to Allies to decide what military they will buy. What matters for NATO is that the equipment Allies acquire is able to operate together. Interoperability of our armed forces is fundamental to NATO for the conduct of our operations and missions.”

That said, Sanders indicated that “no NATO ally currently operates the S-400. NATO has not been informed about the details of any purchase.”

Turkey has been a NATO member since 1952 and hosts US warplanes and nuclear gravity bombs at İncirlik Airbase in Adana province.

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