The first shipment of a sophisticated Russian surface-to-air missile system arrived in Turkey on Friday, the Turkish defence ministry announced, a process that is expected to incur US sanctions and will test the Nato alliance.
The Turkish President, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been insistent in his determination to purchase the S-400 system, Russia’s most advanced weaponry, despite US warnings. Washington has cautioned that the deal will lead to economic penalties against Turkey, a fellow Nato member, and cancellation of Turkey’s purchase of American F-35 fighter jets.
The US has been unyielding in its opposition to Turkey’s acquisition of the S-400. American officials have argued that the missile system is incompatible with Nato equipment, and that having Turkey operating both the Russian weapons and the F-35 could give Russia access to the American jets’ secret stealth technology.
The delivery of the S-400 is likely to worsen strained Turkish-American relations, despite expressions of friendliness between Mr. Erdogan and President Trump at the Group of 20 summit meeting in Japan last month.
Mr. Erdogan has pursued the missile system despite US warnings and the damage that sanctions could do to his country’s already suffering economy, including a renewed slide in the Turkish lira. His party suffered a set of stinging defeats in local elections this year, largely because of the economic conditions.