Turkey began taking delivery of Russian S-400 air defence missile systems, raising the likelihood of U.S. economic sanctions.
The Turkish military began receiving a first group of materials at an airbase adjacent to the capital Ankara on Friday, the Turkish Ministry of Defence said in a statement on Twitter.
The United States has threatened reprisals against Turkey, including barring it from the F-35 stealth fighter programme and banning its defence firms from the United States, should it take delivery of the S-400s. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan says the missiles are essential for Turkey’s defences.
The Turkish lira dropped 0.6 per cent to 5.7 per cent dollar at 11:24 a.m. in Istanbul. The currency sank to a record low last August when U.S. President Donald Trump imposed sanctions for Turkey’s detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson.
Turkey plans to deploy the missiles along its eastern border with Syria, as well as near the capital Ankara, local media have reported.
Trump believes Turkey has been treated unfairly in seeking to procure alternative weapons from the United States, Erdoğan said after holding talks with the U.S. president at the G-20 meetings in Japan early last month. Trump would not approve sanctions, Erdoğan said.
Politicians in the U.S. Congress have said that Turkey will face reprisals, which are likely to be carried out under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which bars individuals, companies or governments from dealing with sanctioned entities, including Russian defence firms.
“Can Trump sit on these, and would he want to?” Tim Ash, a senior strategist at BlueBay Asset Management, said in e-mailed comments to clients. “And even if he does, does Congress want to escalate this with a separate Turkish sanctions bill akin to CAATSA.”
Should Trump reject any recommendations for sanctions, Congress can over-rule him. His administration could, however, delay a decision on whether to punish Turkey for weeks or months.
The U.S. State Department said this week that there has been no change in Washington’s position on possible sanctions against Turkey. That means Turkey faces expulsion from the F-35 programme and potentially crippling economic sanctions under CAATSA, it said.