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Turkey looks set to defy US and proceed with Russian S-400 acquisition

There are increasing signs that Turkey will ultimately stick to accepting the Russian S-400 surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) it has ordered at the expense of not acquiring the 100 US-designed F-35 Joint Strike Fighters (JSFs) it has signed up for, informed Western defence sources have told Jane’s .

US news channel CNBC, quoting multiple people familiar with the matter, reported on 21 May that Turkey has a little more than two weeks to decide whether to complete a complex arms deal to buy the US Patriot air defence system or risk severe penalties by proceeding with an agreement to buy the rival Russian system.

In defiance of US warnings, however, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar told local media on 21 May that Turkey is preparing for all scenarios, including possible US sanctions, over its Russian S-400 deal.

“We need to set up an air defence system to protect our 82 million people and our country,” Akar said, stressing that Turkey was under threat of air and missile attacks from its border with Syria.

He added that the United States was still trying to dissuade Turkey from purchasing the Russian SAMs but that Ankara was determined to go through with the deal.

“We tell them it's a ‘done deal’ but they keep telling us ‘No deal is a done deal’,” he noted.

“Turkey is also making preparations for the potential implementation of CAATSA sanctions,” he said, falling short of detailing preparations to this end.

Akar also noted that Turkish military personnel had been sent to Russia to receive training on the S-400. The first components of the system are due to arrive in Turkey next month and it is planned to become operational in 2020.

A Russian S-400 system on display near Moscow in 2017. Turkey looks set to proceed with procuring S-400s despite the threat of US sanctions. (A Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images)

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