Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is mocking the United States and crossing a red line as Turkey starts testing for S-400 missile defence systems, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen, said in a tweet on Monday.
Erdoğan is thumbing his nose at Trump, the U.S. and NATO, tweeted Sen. Van Hollen, who together with Sen. Lindsey Graham introduced a bill to impose sanctions on Turkey following Turkey’s incursion into northern Syria.
Turkey started testing the missile defence systems on Monday, with F-16 jets carrying out high and low altitude flight tests in the Mürted Airbase in capital Ankara.
Tests focus on the radar connection between the jets and S-400s, to ensure they can recognise Turkish aircrafts.
The S-400s are expected to be fully operational by April next year, according to Turkish defence sources.
The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA, calls for sanctions to be imposed on Turkey for the country’s purchase of the Russian-made S-400s, which the United States maintains pose a security risk for NATO assets.
Turkey was removed from the F-35 stealth fighter jet program because of the purchase.
Erdoğan visited Washington on Nov. 13, following discussions in both countries about whether their respective presidents should have cancelled the meeting.
Reports suggested that Trump proposed incentives to Erdoğan to recover bilateral relations, including a $100 billion trade deal and a workaround to avoid sanctions.
The U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo should confront Turkey about its attack against the Kurds in Syria, Sen. Van Hollen said.
Turkey’s Syria operation launched on Oct. 9 against U.S.-allied Kurdish forces have resulted in the displacement of at least 180,000 civilians and the death of over 200, according to UN data, as the country set out to establish a safe zone to act as a buffer between Turkey and Kurdish forces it considers to be terrorists.
The Turkish government also has plans to resettle up to two million Syrian refugees in the safe zone, a 30 km deep strip of land along the Turkish border as per the agreement currently in place between Turkey and Russia.
Turkey has been accused of using white phosphorus against civilian populations in its war-torn neighbour, and of breaking the ceasefire. Most recently, reports emerged of a Turkish attack on Monday against Syria’s Ain Issa town, killing four people and injuring 22.