By Kamila Aliyeva
The United States continues to express concern over Turkey's purchase of S-400 Triumph air defense systems from Russia.
This was stated by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia Wess Mitchell said at a hearing in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, RIA Novosti reported.
“For Turkey as a whole, one of our strongest concerns for now is the behavior that we see in recent days, especially with regard to the local staff that we hired to work in the U.S. diplomatic missions. We continue to work with Turkey as allies, and we continue to express concern in many areas, including the S-400 ... This is part of our conversations with the Turks,” he noted.
Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, following the talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, said that during this week Turkey will decide on the delivery of S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems from Russia.
In turn, Putin said that he hopes that the credit agreement in the field of military-technical cooperation with Turkey will be signed in the near future.
The S-400 is Russia's next-generation air defense system, carrying three different types of missiles capable of destroying aerial targets at a short-to-extremely-long range. The weapon is capable of tracking and destroying all existing aerial targets, including ballistics and cruise missiles.
Reportedly in July 2017, Turkey reached an agreement with Russia to purchase the S-400. Under the $2.5 billion agreement Ankara would receive two batteries of the antiaircraft missile from Moscow within the upcoming year and then produce two more batteries in Turkey.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on September 12 that Ankara had signed an agreement with Moscow on the acquisition of the S-400 SAM, and the deposit has already been paid.
Then in mid-October Erdogan noted that Turkey had discussed with Russia and the question of the possible acquisition of the S-500 system.
The deal on S-400 raised eyebrows among Ankara’s fellow NATO members and caused concerns as they are supposed to only buy compatible weapons systems from other members.
Turkish leader previously said in an interview with the American PBS TV channel that despite negotiations with NATO member states regarding the acquisition of an air defense system, none of the alliance members provided Turkey with such an opportunity.
Turkey has the second-largest military force in NATO, after the U.S., but ties among the NATO allies have worsened last July after a failed coup attempt. Relations further deteriorated following an April referendum which expanded the powers of the president.
Ankara also objects to some NATO members’ military support for Syrian Kurdish rebels, who are linked to PKK terrorists.
Kamila Aliyeva is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Kami_Aliyeva
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