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Turkey says S-400 system will be active in April as it receives second battery from Russia

Diplomatic face-off between Ankara and Washington continues amid second delivery of missile defence system
Parts of the S-400 defence system are unloaded from a Russian plane at Murted Airport near Ankara last month (Reuters)

Turkey's defence ministry said it had received a second shipment of a battery of the Russian S-400 missile defence system on Sunday, adding that it would be active in April 2020.

The first delivery was completed in July, leading to a decision by Washington to cancel its F-35 fighter jet sales to Turkey over the purchase.

The two NATO allies have been at loggerheads for months over the system as the US says that the S-400s are not compatible with NATO's defence network and could compromise its Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter jets, which Turkey had purchased to revamp its fleet.

Ankara's acquisition of the S-400s may open the country up to US sanctions under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which prohibits the sale of military technology to foreign entities that may breach or exploit classified components.

Washington believes that there is a risk that the Russian operators who will train the Turkish military in the S-400s may at the same time unlock the technological secrets of the F-35.

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Mixed messages

But the US government has sent mixed signals over the deal and Ankara has so far dismissed US warnings. 

The US Treasury Secretary said on Monday that the Trump administration was considering imposing sanctions related to the S-400s purchase. 

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However, US President Donald Trump told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Washington was ready to make a new offer over its Patriot missile system to end the crisis.

In a phone call, Trump asked Erdogan whether he was still interested in purchasing the Patriots, even though Turkey has begun to receive the S-400 system, Turkish officials told Middle East Eye earlier this month.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in an interview with CNN Turk on Saturday that the S-400s would be activated despite repeated US warnings.

"They (US officials) told us 'don't activate them and we can sort this out,' but we told them that we didn't buy these systems as a prop," Cavusoglu said, adding that Turkey would be open to buying the Patriot system as well.

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