Turkey’s decision to further develop its new Russian S-400 air defense system with test firings against British-made Banshee drones drew a sharp response from the U.S. and other NATO allies.
U.S. defense officials told the New York Times on the weekend the S-400 system was tested in Turkey’s Sinop province, on the Black Sea, where it was delivered earlier this month.
The Turkish government did not confirm or deny the test, but the firing appears to violate an agreement with the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump not to test the system, according to several the officials.
“The U.S. Department of Defense is aware of reports of a possible test of the S-400 air defense system by Turkey. If accurate, the Department strongly condemns the test,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said.
“We object to Turkey’s purchase of the system, and are deeply concerned with reports that Turkey is bringing it into operation. It should not be activated. Doing so risks serious consequences for our security relationship. Turkey has already been suspended from the F-35 program and theS-400 continues to be a barrier to progress elsewhere in the bilateral relationship.”
Despite the complaints from Europe in general and NATO in particular over the deal with Russia, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has shown previously he has no intention of showing any caution when it comes to global geo-politics.
Ottoman Empire Redux: Turkey’s Erdogan Tells the World ‘Jerusalem Is Ours’ https://t.co/qrTGj9j9oO
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) October 4, 2020
Russia delivered the defense system last year. Turkey had initially said the S-400 would be operational in April but delayed activating it.
NATO and U.S. officials were critical of Turkey’s 2019 purchase of the system from Russia, which could counter F-35 fighter planes used by NATO countries, as Breitbart News reported.
The U.S. has repeatedly said the Russian S-400 system is a threat to the integrity of NATO defense and is a threat to the F-35, warning that activation of the system could lead to sanctions against Turkey.
“Today’s test by Turkey of the Russian-made S-400 air defense system is a stark reminder that Ankara is not deterred by simple meek pleas coming from the Trump administration,” said Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in a statement on Friday.
UPI contributed to this story