The United States has informed Turkey that it was inadmissible to put into operation S-400 ‘Triumf’ surface-to-air missile systems, purchased from Russia, and sanctions from Washington against Ankara may follow over this issue, Bloomberg news agency reported citing US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, TASS reports.
Russia completed on Thursday the first stage of S-400 deliveries to Turkey. According to Head of Russia’s state arms seller Rosoboronexport Alexander Mikheyev, Russian transport aircraft carried out 30 special flights to deliver S-400 parts to Turkey.
Both the Turkish side and Russia’s Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation confirmed on July 25 that the first stage of S-400 deliveries had been concluded.
US Secretary of State Pompeo declined to confirm earlier statements made by Republican Senator Lindsay Graham that the United States would not be imposing new sanctions against Ankara in case Turkey decides against activating Russia’s S-400 systems.
"I am not going to talk about internal deliberations," Pompeo said in an interview with Bloomberg. "We are all working together to do our best. We made clear to the Turks that the activation of the S-400 is unacceptable."
"We have already taken an action of curtailing the F-35 [fighter-bombers] program that was an important part of what Turkey was doing," he said. "There could be more sanctions to follow but frankly what we’d really like is for the S-400 not to become operational."
"That’s our objective and that’s what we had been talking about with the Turks for months," he continued. "We have told them that it is simply incompatible with the F-35. They have taken delivery of some of the components today and we are urging them to reconsider that decision."
The first reports about the talks between Russia and Turkey on the deliveries of S-400 air defense missile systems emerged in November 2016. Russia confirmed in September 2017 that the relevant contract worth $2.5 billion had been signed. Under the contract, Ankara will get a regiment set of S-400 air defense missile systems (two battalions). The deal also envisages partial transfer of production technology to the Turkish side.
Turkey is the first NATO member state to purchase such air-defense missile systems from Russia. The deliveries of S-400 air defense systems to Turkey began on July 12, 2019.
The United States and NATO have been making attempts to prevent Turkey from purchasing Russia's S-400 missile systems. Washington has warned on many occasions that it may impose sanctions on Turkey, if Ankara presses ahead with the S-400 deal.
On July 17, the press secretary of the US White House said in a statement that Turkey’s decision to acquire Russian-made S-400 air defense missile systems rendered Ankara’s further participation in the US program of creating F-35 fighter-bombers impossible.
The S-400 ‘Triumf’ is the most advanced long-range air defense missile system that went into service in Russia in 2007. It is designed to destroy aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles, including medium-range missiles, and can also be used against ground installations. The S-400 can engage targets at a distance of 400 km and at an altitude of up to 30 km.