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Turkey, a NATO member, is now purchasing defense systems from Russia. Moscow received an advance payment from Turkey for S-400 surface-to-air missile systems, Russian presidential aide Vladimir Kozhin confirmed.

The S-400 is a next-generation Russian air defense system. It carries three different types of missiles, capable of destroying aerial targets at short-to-extremely-long ranges. It is designed to track and destroy various types of aerial targets, from reconnaissance aircraft to ballistic missiles.    

Ankara reportedly made the first payment on the delivery of Russian S-400 surface-to-air missiles to Turkey. “Yes, we have received it. We cannot name the dates of supply yet. They want earlier [than 2019], but the issue is still being discussed,” Kozhin told reporters, according to sputniknews.com.

The deal provoked a furor in Washington, prompting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to respond by saying that his country was free to make independent decisions about its national security. US Senator Ben Cardin even proposed “automatic sanctions” against Ankara over the deal.

Similar arguments have been made in Russia, although the tone has been more apprehensive, naturally. Armchair observers warned that the S-400’s sale to a NATO state essentially gives the alliance the keys to defeating Russia’s most powerful air defenses.

Today, Turkey completely lacks long-range anti-aircraft missile capability. The military is equipped with medium-range MIM-14 Nike Hercules and MIM-23 Hawk missiles, US and NATO designs which were first introduced in the 50s and 60s. Its forces are also outfitted with short-range Rapier missiles, produced in the UK since the 70s. These weapons are also considered obsolete.