Russia announced that it plans to deliver its S-400 missile defense systems to Turkey next month, according to a news report by Reuters on Tuesday.
Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov on Tuesday announced Moscow’s plans to send Turkey the defense systems in July, setting the clock ticking on a Washington threat to hit Ankara with sanctions if it goes ahead with the S-400 deal.
“The agreements reached between Russia and Turkey are being fulfilled on time in the given context. There are no bilateral problems,” Ushakov told reporters in Moscow.
When asked if the surface-to-air missiles will be delivered to Turkey in July, he said: “Yes, that’s what we plan somehow.”
The deal between Moscow and Ankara to buy the Russian air defense system, signed in 2017, has strained ties between two NATO allies Turkey and the US since then.
Washington has repeatedly expressed its disapproval over Ankara’s order for the S-400s, which NATO argues is incompatible with the transatlantic alliance’s systems.
Ankara was threatened by Washington to be removed from its F-35 program, a fighter jet made by Lockheed Martin Corp unless the country withdraws from the treaty with Moscow by July 31.
Turkey is both a buyer and a production partner of the F-35 fighter aircraft.
If Ankara carries on with the delivery of the Russian missile systems, that would induce US sanctions that could prolong the economic recession of Turkey and trigger a re-evaluation of its 67-year membership of NATO.
The Turkish government stated that a US House of Representatives’ resolution on Monday condemning the air defense system order and urging sanctions was “unacceptably threatening.”
Entitled “Expressing concern for the United States-Turkey alliance,” the US resolution calls on Ankara to go back on the deal to buy the Russian S-400 systems.
It also urges sanctions in the case that Turkey accepts the S-400 deliver, which would “undermine” the US-led transatlantic defense alliance, according to the resolution.
The resolution, which was introduced in May, was agreed in the House on Monday.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday said in response that its foreign policy and judicial system were being slandered by “unfair” and “unfounded” claims cited in the US resolution.
“It is unacceptable to take decisions which do not serve to increase mutual trust, to continue to keep the language of threats and sanctions on the agenda and to set various artificial deadlines,” the ministry stressed.
The United States, as well as some other NATO countries that are part of the F-35 program, held forth that Turkish government’s acquisition of Russian S-400s poses a threat to F-35 stealth fighters, which the country also plans to buy.
Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, defined Turkey’s deal with Russia as a “black and white issue with no middle ground” on the House floor on Monday.
“Either [Turkish President] Mr. [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan cancels the Russian deal, or he doesn’t. There is no future for Turkey having both Russian weapons and American F-35s. There’s no third option,” Engel emphasized.
Ankara seems determined not to cancel the S-400 purchase deal with Moscow despite successive warnings from the US, as President Erdogan last week said that it was “out of the question” for Turkey.