Russia’s sophisticated S-400 anti-ballistic missile defense systems will be delivered to Turkey in 2019, state arms exporter Rosoboronexport has announced, amid the latter’s feud with NATO allies over the deployment of these multibillion non-NATO systems on its soils, which have raised concern over the security of allied weaponry and radar systems.
“S-400 to Turkey. The contract is implemented within the agreed time limits. In 2019 we will start implementing the contract,” Alexander Mikheev, the CEO of the Rosoboronexport was quoted as saying by Russian Interfax agency on Aug 21.
Turkey and Russia have sealed an agreement on the procurement of the S-400 missiles and the former even made a down payment for the $2.5 billion cost. Turkish officials said earlier the systems would be deployed in July 2019.
Ankara’s decision to purchase a Russian sophisticated system has long been an issue between Turkey and its allies, particularly with the United States. Military experts are concerned that the deployment of S-400s would put the security of allied weapon systems, particularly F-35 aircrafts and radar facilities into danger.
U.S. President Donald Trump recently signed a Pentagon bill into law restricting the delivery of F-35 aircrafts to Turkey. The bill calls for the U.S. Secretary of Defense to submit a report within 90 days addressing the impacts of Turkey’s purchase of S-400s on U.S.-made weapon systems in Turkish territories.
The two allies had begun discussing alternative ways to resolve this dispute but talks have so far failed to bring about a resolution to this question. Ties between Turkey and the U.S. have increasingly worsened in the last month over the continued detention of U.S. evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson.
The U.S. has announced economic and political sanctions on Turkey, which has led to an unprecedented devaluation of the Turkish Lira against the U.S. dollar.
Turkey-Russia to use local currencies
Economic pressure on Turkey has pushed the government to trade in local currencies with Russia and other trade partners, including the purchase of the S-400s.
Rosoboronexport also said it would switch to using local currencies in deals with foreign trade partners, instead of using the dollar.
The Turkish defense industry is also seeking ways to use local currencies in deals with Russia and other partners. Talks between the two countries over how the financing of the S-400s will be provided are underway between related bodies.