Turkey has confirmed delivery of the first round of S-400 anti-air missile systems components. The first batch reportedly arrived at an airbase near Ankara, which was caught on video.
A NATO official told CNN on Friday: “It is up to allies to decide what military equipment they buy. However, we are concerned about the potential consequences of Turkey’s decision to acquire the S-400 system.” Those consequences are shaking the alliance given Turkish media is already reporting a punitive response from Washington is imminent:
U.S. sources tell Ahval, there will be a response by the U.S. government with regards to the arrival of S-400 Russian defense systems in Turkey, soon.
Defense Ministry releases close-up footage of Russian S-400 missile system parts being unloaded from cargo planes upon arrival to be re-assembled in Turkeyhttps://t.co/e8swGwHwhG pic.twitter.com/xVnymoIfwK
— DAILY SABAH (@DailySabah) July 12, 2019
Russia’s TASS news has indicated a second delivery will be made in the coming weeks, with a third delivery, carrying over “120 anti-aircraft missiles of various types” to be delivered “tentatively at the end of the summer, by sea.”
TASS also noted that Turkish S-400 operators will receive training on the systems in Russia, following a prior training program involving 20 Turkish personnel last Spring.
The US this week again warned of “real and negative” consequences if Turkey completes the purchase of the S-400, which is now definitively a done deal with the S-400 equipment arrivals in Turkey. “Those consequences include participation in the F-35 program,” a State Department spokesperson said Tuesday.
Turkey, for its part, shot back on Wednesday that the US must avoid taking the “wrong steps,” with the foreign ministry saying in a statement, “We are inviting the US to avoid taking the wrong steps which would exclude diplomacy and dialogue and harm relations.”
Starting months ago Turkey consistently affirmed it’s “a done deal” and that there would be no cancellation, even as Washington urged “alternatives” such as US Patriot missiles.
#BREAKING: #Turkish media (#Erdogan‘s Anadolu Agency) released video of the first S-400 SAM battery of #Turkey which were delivered by two #Russia Air Force’s An-124-100 transport airplanes, RA-82038 and RA-82013 from 224th Flight Unit at #Akinci AB, #Ankara few hours ago. pic.twitter.com/nT1HX7PKwV
— Babak Taghvaee (@BabakTaghvaee) July 12, 2019
But as of today it now appears there’s no further dialogue to be had on the S-400, which early this week President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared would be a positive development for the defense of the region “and for the world”. On Wednesday Erdogan further described to reporters:
“Some people have a question about why we buy the S-400, why we make such an investment. If we have to, we will have the right to use them. If someone attacks us, we will use these air defense systems. That’s why we make such an investment.”
The State Department’s stance is that “nothing has changed” concerning US resistance to the S-400 deal.
Concerns have been driven over fears that it would allow Russia to access sensitive information on the defenses of NATO aircraft, especially if Turkey’s military is simultaneously operating the Lockheed Martin made F-35 advanced stealth fighter.
And while the Turkish Lira has been on a stronger path for much of the past month, surprising many, today it finally appeared to get a moment of realization that the US is unlikely to let this provocation without a response, and the result has been a sharp spike in the USDTRY.
On the other hand, with Erdogan now de facto central bank chief, it is only a matter of time before the pair trades back to whatever level the Turkish president deems satisfactory, even if it means the vaporization of Turkish FX reserves and the eventual collapse of the country’s economy.