Turkey completes first S-400 shipment, second planned

ANKARA: Russia has completed delivery of the first shipment of its S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems to Turkey and a second shipment is now being planned, Turkish military officials said on Thursday.
Turkey began taking delivery of the advanced Russian air defence system earlier this month, prompting the United States to remove Nato ally Turkey from the F-35 jet programme over security concerns.
Washington has also threatened to impose sanctions on Turkey, though Ankara has dismissed the warnings. It has instead put its trust in sympathetic comments from US President Donald Trump, who has said that Turkey was treated “unfairly”.
At a briefing in Ankara, military officials said on Thursday that Turkey was still discussing where exactly to base the first S-400 shipment.
US officials are concerned that the stealth capabilities of the F-35 Lockheed Martin fighter would be jeopardised if deployed together with the S-400s.
Turkey has dismissed those concerns and said the decision to remove it from the project was not finalised. Military officials said Ankara expected the United States to change its stance.
“As a strategic partner, it is our most natural right to expect the United States to change its current stance. The project has been suspended, but there is no clear removal or cancellation yet,” one of the military sources said.
Russia’s Rostec state conglomerate said Russia would be ready to supply its SU-35 jets to Turkey if Ankara requested them. Turkish officials said on Thursday there were no talks with Moscow on procuring alternatives to the F-35 jets for now.
Washington has offered to sell Ankara its Patriot defence systems, but Turkey has said that the US offer was not as viable as the Russian deal. Officials said on Thursday the two sides continued to discuss the matter.
Meanwhile, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar met with military officials to discuss a possible operation in northern Syria, the ministry said on Thursday, a day after Ankara warned it would act if a planned safe zone could not be agreed with the United States.
Turkey said on Wednesday it had “run out of patience” with the United States in talks over the formation of the zone, after Turkish and US officials held a series of meetings on the planned safe zone and other developments in the region.
“We conveyed our views and requests to the delegation that came here. We expect them to evaluate these and answer us immediately,” the ministry quoted Akar as saying in a statement. “We emphasised to them once again that we have no tolerance for any delays, and that we will use our initiative if necessary.” — AFP