FILE PHOTO: Russian servicemen sit in the cabins of S-400 missile air defense systems in Tverskaya Street before a rehearsal for the Victory Day parade, which marks the anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, in central Moscow, Russia April 29, 2019. REUTERS/Tatyana Makeyeva/File Photo
ISTANBUL (Reuters) – The first parts of a Russian S-400 missile defense system were delivered to NATO member Turkey on Friday, the Turkish defense ministry said, a development set to escalate tensions with the United States which has warned of sanctions over the deal.
The S-400 consignment was delivered to the Murted Air Base outside the capital Ankara, the ministry said, in a statement which triggered a weakening in the Turkish lira to 5.7 against the dollar from 5.6775 on Wednesday.
“The delivery of parts belonging to the system will continue in the coming days,” Turkey’s Defence Industry Directorate said separately. “Once the system is completely ready, it will begin to be used in a way determined by the relevant authorities.”
President Tayyip Erdogan said after meeting President Donald Trump at a G20 summit last month that the United States did not plan to impose sanctions on Ankara for buying the S-400s. Trump said Turkey had not been treated fairly but did not rule out sanctions.
The United States says the S-400s are not compatible with NATO’s defense network and could compromise its Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter jets, an aircraft Turkey is helping to build and planning to buy.
Under possible U.S. sanctions, Turkey could face expulsion from the F-35 program, a move Erdogan has dismissed. But Washington has already started the process of removing Turkey from the F-35 program, halting training of Turkish pilots in the United States on the aircraft.
Reporting by Sarah Dadouch and Ezgi Erkoyun; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Dominic Evans