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US condemns apparent Turkish test of Russian missile system

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A rocket is launched from an S-400 missile system at the Ashuluk military base in southern Russia on September 22, 2020.

Dimitar Dilkoff | AFP | Getty Images

WASHINGTON The Pentagon and the State Department issued strong criticisms on Friday following reports that the Turkish military had tested a Russian-made missile system, a move that could escalate tensions between Washington and the member of NATO.

In recent days, Turkey has said it is preparing to test the Russian-made S-400, a mobile surface-to-air missile system, which would pose a risk to the NATO alliance as well as to the platform. America’s most expensive weapon form: Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter.

Ankara negotiated a deal with Moscow in 2017 for the S-400, despite warnings from the United States and other NATO allies. Moscow delivered the first of four missile batteries in July 2019. A week later, the United States excluded financial and industrial partner Turkey from the F-35 program after Ankara accepted delivery of the manufacturing system. Russian.

Defense and state departments condemned Friday’s missile test off Turkey’s Black Sea coast, but have not confirmed whether the launch took place.

“The United States has expressed to the Turkish government at the highest levels that the acquisition of Russian military systems such as the S-400 is unacceptable,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus wrote in a statement. sent by email. “The United States has made it clear that the S-400 systems will not be operational,” she added.

“We oppose Turkey’s purchase of this system and are deeply concerned about reports that Turkey is putting it into use. It should not be activated. This risks serious consequences for our security relations,” he said. echoed Pentagon chief spokesman Jonathan Hoffman in an emailed statement Friday.

Conclusion of an agreement with the Kremlin

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (left) and Russian President Vladimir Putin last April.

Adem Altan | AFP | Getty Images

The S-400, the successor to the S-200 and S-300 missile systems, debuted in 2007. Compared to American systems, the Russian-made S-400 is said to be capable of attacking a wider range of targets, at longer distances and against multiple threats simultaneously.

In multiple efforts to dissuade Turkey from buying the S-400, the State Department offered in 2013 and 2017 to sell Raytheon’s Patriot missile system. Ankara transmitted the Patriot twice because the United States refused to provide a transfer of the system’s sensitive missile technology.

In 2017, Turkish President Recep Erdogan negotiated a $ 2.5 billion deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin for the S-400, despite warnings from the United States that the purchase of the system would have political and economic consequences.

Under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which President Donald Trump signed in August 2017, Turkey could face economic sanctions for accepting the Kremlin missile system. The United States has not issued these sanctions against Turkey.

“The administration’s particular inability to implement CAATSA as required by law is both a moral hazard and in stark contrast to the ‘maximum pressure’ posture pursued in many other cases,” explained Thomas Karako, Director of the Center’s Missile Defense Project. for strategic and international studies.

“Erdogan appears to have made a strategic choice to favor Russia over the United States and other NATO allies. There are difficult questions to ask about Turkey’s exact type of ally and the future of Turkey. Turkey’s place in NATO, ”Karako added.

Despite possible US sanctions, a dozen countries have expressed interest in purchasing Russia’s S-400 missile system.

A Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile system.

Sergei Malgavko | TASS via Getty Images

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