The United States has blasted Turkey’s reported test of the Russian-built S-400 missile system, describing the action as “unacceptable behavior by a NATO ally.”
The statement by the chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee comes after Turkish media said the country had tested the advanced air defense system on Friday.
The country’s defense ministry refused to either confirm or deny the reports.
“US law requires sanctions against countries that continue to deepen their defense relationship with Russia, and the administration should send a strong signal that Turkey must divest its S-400s,” US Senator Jim Risch said.
“Turkey and Russia have a deep history of disagreement and conflict. The burgeoning relationship between these two nations that Erdogan is pursuing has started to raise serious concerns for the security of the eastern Mediterranean and the Caucuses. These interests are in direct conflict with Turkey’s long-standing allies in NATO and fuel instability in the region.”
Turkey signed a $2.5 billion deal for the systems with Russia in 2017, receiving first batteries in July 2019. Turkey defended its decision by saying that the US forced its hand by refusing to sell its Patriot missile system to Ankara, a claim US officials have repeatedly disputed. After the S-400 purchase was confirmed, Turkey was kicked out of the F-35 joint strike fighter program, despite plans for the purchase of 100 of the fifth-generation fighters.
At the time it was removed from the program, US defense contractor Lockheed Martin had already built four of the aircraft for Turkey. They will now be bought by the US Air Force.