Skip to main content

US condemns Turkey over reported test of Russian S-400 missile system

Ankara refuses to confirm or deny reports that it has tested the controversial air defence system near the Black Sea
Washington fears the S-400 could be used to gain intelligence on US weaponry (Reuters)

The United States condemned Turkey on Friday after reports emerged that Ankara had tested a Russian air defence system despite opposition from Washington. 

Turkey's armed forces tested the controversial S-400 missile system in the town of Sinop, near the Black Sea, according to the pro-government media outlet A Haber. 

Local media also shared an amateur video posted online showing a white streak in the sky. 

Russia won't object if Turkey does not activate S-400s
Read More »

Turkey's defence ministry refused to confirm or deny that it had tested the S-400, AFP reported. 

Washington meanwhile said the US State Department had previously told Turkish officials at the highest levels that it was "unacceptable" for a Nato ally to buy the Russian defence system. 

"If confirmed, we would condemn in the strongest terms the S-400 test missile as incompatible with Turkey's responsibilities as a Nato ally and strategic partner to the United States," said State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus. 

The US had threatened to impose sanctions on Turkey if it activated the S-400 missile system. 

However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has remained defiant that the S-400 would be deployed. 

Excluded from fighter programme

Erdogan said Turkey had no choice but to buy the S-400 missile system after the US refused to sell Ankara US Patriot missiles, an assertion officials in Washington deny. 

US President Donald Trump, however, has backed Erdogan's claim, blaming the decision on his predecessor, Barack Obama. 

Sanction Turkey over Russian S-400 deal, US senators urge Trump
Read More »

Ankara's decision to purchase and test the S-400 could  further strain Turkey's relationship with other Nato allies. 

Following the delivery of the first battery of missiles last year, Turkey was excluded from an F-35 fighter jet training programme by the Trump administration due to fears the Russian S-400 missile system would compromise US intelligence. 

Ankara lamented its exclusion and said Washington was going against the spirit of the Nato alliance. It also described the purchase of the missiles as a matter of national sovereignty.

The US government however is concerned that the the S-400 could be used to gather data on the capabilities of the F-35, and that the information could end up in Russian hands.