Has Turkey Gone Too Far?

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NATO member Turkey has tested its Russian-made S-400 air defense system. The move was condemned by the United States.

The Turkish television channel A Haber, which is close to the government, said on its website that Turkey’s military test-fired the Russian S-400 in the Black Sea province of Sinop. It based its reports on an amateur video, reportedly filmed in Sinop, showing a contrail shooting into the sky. Other media carried similar reports. Turkish military and defense officials have refused to comment on the reports.

The U.S. State Department said the missile launch is “incompatible with Turkey’s responsibilities as a NATO ally and strategic partner” of the U.S.

A Defense Department spokesperson said, according to voanews.com: “We have been clear: an operational S-400 system is not consistent with Turkey’s commitments as a U.S. and NATO ally. We object to Turkey’s purchase of the system and are deeply concerned with reports that Turkey is bringing it into operation.”

According to defensenews.com, Washington strongly objected to Turkey’s acquisition of the Russian anti-aircraft system and suspended Turkey from its high-tech F-35 fighter jet program, saying the S-400 is a threat to the stealthy aircraft.

It has also warned Ankara that it risks U.S. sanctions if the S-400 system is activated.

Turkey insists it was forced to purchase the Russian system after Washington refused to sell it the U.S. Patriot system.

Russia delivered the first batch of the Russian defense system last year. Turkey had initially said the S-400 would be operational in April but it has since delayed activating the system.

During a visit to Turkey earlier this month, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg reiterated that the S-400 cannot be integrated into the NATO air and missile defense system and can lead to sanctions by the United States.