S-400 missile system in Turkey operational in April 2020

Despite criticism, defence ministry says efforts to mount the missile system and train military personnel are continuing

Photo: Shutterstock The Russian S-400 equipment

The delivery of a second battery of Russian S-400 missiles to Turkey was completed on Sunday with the controversial defence system expected to become fully active by April 2020. Efforts to mount the missile system and train military personnel to use it were continuing, a Turkish defence ministry statement said, despite repeated warnings from the US.

The first S-400 equipment was delivered to Ankara in July despite US warnings that the system is not compatible with NATO defences and poses a threat to its F-35 stealth fighter jets. Ankara and Washington have since been at odds over Turkey's purchase with US threating to impose sanctions over the purchase. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, however, told CNN Turk television on Saturday that the S-400s would be activated despite repeated US warnings, risking to escalate the dispute over the Russian defence system, which has brought the NATO allies to the brink of one of their biggest ruptures in ties.

"They [US officials] told us 'don't activate them and we can sort this out', but we told them that we didn't buy these systems as a prop," Cavusoglu said, adding Turkey would be open to buying US Patriot missile systems as well.

Cavusoglu's words followed a statement by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who told Reuters news agency last week he intended to discuss buying Patriot missiles with US President Donald Trump this month, saying his personal bond with the US leader could overcome the crisis caused by the S-400s.

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