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 (Reuters) – The Pentagon and the State Department issued strong reprimands on Friday following reports that the Turkish military had tested a Russian-made missile system, a move that could further fuel tensions between Washington and the NATO member.
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 the platform. most expensive weaponry in the United States: 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 withdrew Turkey, a financial and industrial partner, from the F-35 program after Ankara accepted delivery of the system. Russian manufacture.
Defense and state departments condemned Friday’s apparent 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 press release sent by email. “The United States has been clear about our expectation that the S-400 system should not be operationalized,” she added.
“We oppose Turkey’s purchase of the 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 spokesman Jonathan Hoffman in an emailed statement. Friday.
An agreement with the Kremlin
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 able to engage a wider range. targets, at longer range and against multiple threats simultaneously.
In multiple efforts to deter 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 both times because the United States refused to provide a transfer of the system’s sensitive missile technology.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (left) and Russian President Vladimir Putin last April.
Adem Altan | AFP | Getty Images
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 imposed these sanctions on Turkey.
“The particular failure of the administration to implement CAATSA as required by law is both a moral hazard and in marked contrast to the posture of ‘maximum pressure’ pursued in so many other cases,” said explained Thomas Karako, director of the missile defense project at the Center. for Strategic and International Studies.
“Erdogan appears to have made a strategic choice in preferring Russia over the United States and other NATO allies. There are difficult questions that need to be asked about Turkey’s type of ally, exactly, and the future of Turkey’s place in NATO, ”added Karako.
Despite possible US sanctions, a dozen countries have expressed interest in purchasing the Russian S-400 missile system.
A Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile system.
Sergei Malgavko | TASS via Getty Images