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US sanctions won't deter Turkey from Russian missiles

May 22, 2019

The US has urged Turkey to drop its purchase of Russia's S-400 missile defense system. But Turkey has refused to back away from the deal, saying Turkish soldiers are about to receive training on how to use it.

Russian S-400 system
Image: picturealliance/A. Pavlishak/TASS/dpa

Turkey is preparing for US sanctions after going ahead with the purchase of Russian military hardware, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said in a statement circulated Wednesday.

The White House has threatened sanctions under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which prohibits business activities with Russia's intelligence and defense industry.

The United States is hoping to pressure Turkey, a NATO ally, into buying its Patriot missile battery system. However, the Turkish government has refused to back out of purchasing Russia's S-400 missile system, Akar told reporters.

"We've sent personnel to Russia for S-400 training that will begin in the coming days and will span the following months," Akar said.

In response to US pressure, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday that Russia and Turkey consider "such ultimatums unacceptable."

Read more: Russia encroaches on US war industry in Middle East

Russian S-400 missile defense system in Syria
Russia has deployed the S-400 missile defense system in SyriaImage: picture-alliance/AP Images/V. Savitsky

Next generation system

In another bold move, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last week that Turkey and Russia would develop Moscow's next-generation missile defense system, the S-500.

"There is absolutely no question of [Turkey] taking a step back from the S-400s purchase. That is a done deal," Erdogan said at the time. "There will be joint production of the S-500 after the S-400."

US officials told Turkey earlier this year to scrap the S-400 deal, saying the missile defense system would not be compatible with its current arsenal of American military hardware.

The White House also voiced concerns that the S-400 would compromise its F-35 fighter jets, calling Turkey's plan to buy into the Russian-built system is "deeply problematic."

Last month, the US halted deliveries of F-35-related equipment, citing the Turkish government's refusal to back down on the acquisition of Russian military hardware.

Read more: Is Russia challenging US military dominance? 

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ls/sms (AFP, dpa)