Turkey tests S-400 defense system despite ongoing US disapproval: Turkish media

Turkey will test its newly acquired Russian S-400 air-missile defense system in its capital on Monday and Tuesday, regardless of the reaction by the United States (U.S.), Turkish media reported citing defense sources.

Military aircraft, Turkish F-16 warplanes, will be flying over Ankara as part of an air defense system project the Ankara Governor’s Office announced on Sunday, without giving any further details.

Despite strong disapproval and numerous warnings from the U.S. about dropping the deal with Russia, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has not pulled out of the S-400 contract.

The U.S. House of Representatives had previously passed a resolution punishing Turkey over its S-400 acquisition.

Erdogan, has, however, ignored the resolution and Turkey received its first S-400 deliveries in July and the second in September.

Last week, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said the system would be activated once the military personnel completes their training on it.

The S-400s are currently deployed at the Murted Airbase on the outskirts of Ankara.

In reaction, Washington removed Ankara from the F-35 stealth fighter jet multinational program in which Turkey was both a manufacturer and buyer.

Washington argues that the S-400 system is not compatible with allied weapons, such as America’s Lockheed Martin F-35, and Russia could covertly obtain classified data on the jet.

Ankara, however, says that the Russian system would not be a threat to the Western allies as it will not be integrated into NATO systems.

Following an official visit to Washington on November 13, Erdogan remained determined, saying the U.S. pressure on the issue was an infringement of the country’s sovereign rights.

Although the meeting was described as “wonderful” by US President Donald Trump, his national security adviser said before the visit that Turkey would face sanctions called “the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).”

The CAATSA would pass the US Congress with “overwhelming” bipartisan support, the Adviser Robert O’Brien said.

Prior to the meeting, Trump warned his Turkish counterpart with a letter saying he would soon have to impose sanctions on Turkey over the S-400 purchase, according to a report by Middle East Eye.

Over another dispute between the countries, Trump had also written an unusually colloquial letter calling Erdogan not to be a “fool” or a “tough guy” in a bid to call off Turkey’s incursion into northern Syria in October against the US-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia.

“You do not want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people, and I do not want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy — and I will,” he added.

The reports of the testing of the S400 system have had an effect on the Turkish lira which reversed gains and weakened to 5.7380 against the dollar from a close of 5.7140 on Friday.

The escalating dispute between the two NATO allies has resulted in a slide in the lira’s value since last year.

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