Erdogan confirms testing S-400 surface-to-air missile system, brushing aside US warnings
In a press briefing on Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed the testing of S-400, Russian surface-to-air missile system and clarified Ankara’s stand of going ahead with further testing, brushing aside US warnings.
“The information on the tests [of S-400 systems] is true. The US approach does not concern us and we will not ask it about this. Greece has S-300 systems but does the US say anything on this issue? The trials of S-400s will be continued and we will confidently go our own way,” Erdogan emphasised.
S-400 is one of the most advance and lethal defence systems which was brought to service in 2007 in Russia. This missile system was designed to destroy a wide array for targets ranging from aircraft, cruise, ballistic missiles, to medium-range weapons. It can also reduce ground installations to rubble. The S-400 is capable of hitting its targets at a distance of 400 km and at an altitude of up to 30 km.
Last week, Turkey tested the mobile surface-to-air missile system for the first time, which got disclosed through a video posted by Turkish Minute, opposition news outlet. The video, which was also shared by A Haber, pro-Turkish regime news organisation, showed a trail of smoke apparently left behind after a missile shot. The test was conducted in Sinop on the Black Sea coast as part of Turkish military exercise.
The reports of the missile system’s testing were quickly followed by warnings and criticism from the US administration. “The United States has expressed to the Government of Turkey, at the most senior levels, that the acquisition of Russian military systems such as the S-400 is unacceptable,” said US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus. “The United States has been clear on our expectation that the S-400 system should not be operationalized,” she added.
Chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman reiterated same in an emailed statement, “We object to Turkey’s purchase of the system and are deeply concerned with reports that Turkey is bringing it into operation. It should not be activated. Doing so risks serious consequences for our security relationship.” He added,”We have been clear and unwavering in our position: an operational S-400 system is not consistent with Turkey’s commitments as a U.S. and NATO ally.”
Turkey’s testing posed direct threat to NATO alliance and America’s most exclusive and expensive air defence program, F-35. Washington since the start has been against Ankara-Moscow S-400 defence deal worth $2.5 billion, which got brokered in 2017. US administration even tired to stonewall Turkey from finalising the deal and instead offered its premium Patriot missile system. But Turkish President declined the offer as US refused to transfer its system’s sensitive missile technology.. Russia delivered the first batch, including four missile batteries, in July 2019, and week after which US formally suspended Ankara from its premium defence program.
After the direct violation of NATO clause and threat posed to the American defence systems, many US lawmakers raised the call for immediate sanctions against Ankara. US Senator Jim Risch, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called the test “unacceptable behaviour” from a NATO ally. In his statement, Risch said that the move posed a direct threat to the F-35 and other U.S. and NATO allies’ systems.