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August 21, 2019
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Turkey receives first parts of Russian S-400 missile defence system

ANKARA: Turkey has received the first parts of a Russian S-400 missile defence system despite opposition from the US.

The country received the shipment at an airbase in the capital Ankara on Friday, the Turkish defence ministry says.

The move is set to anger US which has asked Turkey to choose between the Russian Defence System and US F-35 fighter jets. The US says Turkey cannot have both the S-400 anti-aircraft defence system and US F-35 fighter jets.

Turkey and the US are Nato allies – but Turkey has also been establishing closer links with Russia.

Acting US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said on Friday that the US position had not changed.

Republican and Democratic leaders of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee called the Turkish action “a troubling signal of strategic alignment with Putin’s Russia”.

Mr Esper spoke with his Turkish counterpart for 30 minutes but a planned Pentagon briefing in response to the moves by Turkey was called off.

The Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said the two men had discussed the purchase of the S-400 missile system, but insisted that it did not mean a change of Turkey’s strategic orientation.

Mr Akar said the pair also discussed a bid to acquire US Patriot air defence systems.

Turkey has signed up to buying 100 US F-35 warplanes and has invested heavily in the F-35 programme. Turkish companies produce 937 of the plane’s parts.

But Turkey has also pursued an increasingly independent defence policy amid strained ties with the US and Europe. It has purchased Russia’s advanced S-400 air defence system for $2.5bn and sent members of its armed forces to Russia for training.