Russia will begin to ship the S-400 anti-air missile systems to Turkey in the first half of July, Turkish President Recep Erdogan told reporters.
“We have discussed the topic of the S-400s with Russia, and it’s a done deal. We don’t see any problems. I think that the shipments will start in the first half of July,” said the Turkish president, as cited by TASS.
Erdogan emphasized once again that Turkey does not plan to call off the deal.
“In the context of the loan, Russia has granted us various concessions, and given the loan with the kind of interest rate that does not exist on the international market,” the Turkish leader observed.
He also noted that the Turkish Defense Ministry is preparing to respond in writing to acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan regarding Washington’s decision to suspend Turkey’s involvement in the F-35 program on account of the S-400s.
“Very soon, perhaps even this week, the relevant letter will be sent,” Erdogan said.
The US State Department and the Pentagon have repeatedly warned Turkey of the possible consequences of buying S-400s from Russia. US Congress put forward an initiative to ban Turkey from acquiring F-35 fighters. The US and its NATO allies in Europe are concerned that the radars on the S-400 systems could be capable of detecting and monitoring F-35s, which would detract from their stealth against Russian systems in future. For a long time, the US has tried to persuade Turkey to call off the deal, although it has not gone so far as to threaten its NATO ally with sanctions.
Turkey signed the contract to purchase Russia’s S-400 “Triumph” systems in 2017. Turkey will acquire three S-400 divisions for a total price of $2.5 billion. The first S-400 batteries are expected arrive this July, and they could be operational by October.