Moscow has confirmed that it received an advance from Turkey for the purchase of Russian S-400 anti-aircraft systems. The much-discussed deal may signal closer ties between both countries, as well as a growing rift between Turkey and its NATO allies.
“Yes, we have received it [the down payment]. We can’t name the dates of supply yet. They want it earlier [than 2019], but the issue is still under discussion,” Russian presidential aide for military-technical cooperation Vladimir Kozhin said as cited by RIA Novosti, adding that the deal has come into force.
Earlier in September, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also confirmed that Ankara had paid a deposit for the purchase of S-400 anti-aircraft systems from Russia.
“The process will continue by the transfer of a credit from Russia to us. Both [Russian President] Mr. Vladimir Putin and myself, we are determined on this issue,” he told journalists after returning from Kazakhstan on September 10.
On Monday, Turkish Defense Undersecretary Ismail Demir said that S-400 delivery to Turkey will start within two years, Anadolu news agency reported.
In July, Turkish media reported that Russia would supply two batteries and help Ankara build two more such systems, capable of engaging with up to 80 targets within a range of 400km.
On September 21, the state-run Turkish news agency Anadolu published an infographic detailing the components of an S-400 battalion and the system’s capabilities.
Those include the bombers B-52 Stratofortress and B-1 Lancer, as well as the E-3 Sentry, better known as AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System). Apart from that, the list includes half-a-dozen US-made fighter jets and support aircraft, including the F-22 Raptor and the E-2 Hawkeye flying radar, and the Tomahawk cruise missile.
Meanwhile, NATO and Turkish allies individually, including Washington, have criticized Ankara for choosing Russian-made air defense system instead of one produced by NATO members, such as the US-made Patriot PAC-3.
In July, US Defense Secretary James Mattis said that S-400 anti-aircraft systems are “not going to be interoperable with NATO systems.”
“The problem is, how do you interoperate in the NATO system with Russians? They’ll never interoperate,” Mattis said.
Erdogan lashed out at the critics, saying Turkey doesn’t want to wait for the protection of its NATO allies.
“What do you expect? Should we wait for you? We take care of ourselves in every security point. We are taking precautions and we will continue to do so,” he said.