Second battery of S-400s complete, system will be activated in 2020: Turkey

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Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile launching system is displayed at the exposition field in Kubinka Patriot Park outside Moscow on August 22, 2017 during the first day of the International Military-Technical Forum Army-2017. / AFP PHOTO / Alexander NEMENOV

Turkey’s defense ministry has said the delivery of a second battery of a Russian S-400 missile defense system was completed as of Sunday and added that the system would become active in April 2020, Reuters reported.

Ankara and Washington have been at loggerheads over Turkey’s purchase of the S-400 system, which the United States says is not compatible with NATO defenses and pose a threat to Lockheed Martin’s F-35 stealth fighter jets.

The initial parts of the system were delivered to Ankara in July despite warnings about possible US sanctions over the purchase. The United States has also expelled Turkey from the F-35 program, but Ankara has so far dismissed the warnings.

In a statement the defense ministry said the delivery of the second S-400 battery to Ankara was completed. Efforts to install the system and train personnel who will use it were continuing, it said, adding that it planned to activate the S-400s in April 2020.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told an interview with CNN Türk on Saturday that the S-400s would be activated despite repeated US warnings.

“They [US officials] told us, ‘Don’t activate it and we can sort this out,’ but we told them we didn’t buy this system as a prop,” Çavuşoğlu said, adding that Turkey would be open to buying US Raytheon Co Patriot missiles as well.

In an interview on Friday Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told Reuters he would discuss buying US Patriot missiles with President Donald Trump this month, saying his personal bond with the American leader could overcome the crisis caused by the S-400s.

Though Washington has not yet announced whether it will impose sanctions on Ankara, Trump has shown sympathy towards Turkey although he has not fully ruled out sanctions.

On Monday US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the Trump administration was considering imposing sanctions related to Turkey’s purchase of the S-400s but that no decisions had yet been made.

The dispute over the S-400 system is one of several issues straining ties between the United States and Turkey that include the ongoing conflict in Syria.

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