Ankara is looking forward to starting the deployment of Russian-made S-400 air defense missile systems in April, while hoping the US will be reasonable enough not to target its NATO ally over the deal, President Erdogan said.
Turkey will be able to “actively use” the S-400s from April 2020, after their assembly and personnel training is completed, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech at the HQ of the ruling Justice and Development Party on Friday.
Moscow began shipping the S-400 components and equipment to Ankara earlier this month. Under the $2.5 billion contract, the nation is set to receive four batteries of the top-notch missile system.
Ankara is implementing the deal despite repeated protests from its ally Washington. The US insists that the purchase of the Russian-made weapons hurts NATO’s security, and has frozen the delivery of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey in an effort to pressure it into scrapping the contract with Russia.
Speaking to Defense One on Thursday, Senator Lindsey Graham warned that “there are no options left” but to sanction Turkey should it deploy the S-400s.
Turkey, meanwhile, had always maintained that it is absolutely free to choose who it buys weapons from and vowed to retaliate against any sanctions. “I hope the US will act reasonably,” Erdogan said on Friday, stressing that he will not allow any “injustices” be done to the country over the S-400 deal.