A top Turkish official has confirmed that Russian delivery of its deadly S-400 air defense systems, anticipation of which over the past year has caused an unprecedented breach in US-Turkey relations, is expected imminently.
The president of Turkish Defense Industries, Ismail Demir, confirmed that a huge development is expected next week: "I will not tell the exact date now, but you will see in the second week of July," Demir was quoted as saying by private Turkish broadcaster NTV.
Addressing fears that it could radically alter the military balance in the Mediterranean, and amid accusations that the deal solidifies Russian influence over the Levant, the Turkish defense industries chief added, "However, we can use any weapon in our hand anywhere in Turkey whenever necessary."
Amid threats of US sanctions on its NATO ally, and following Turkish counter threats of sanction on Washington which most western pundits have brushed off as unrealistic and laughable, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan repeatedly insisted over the past months that it is "a done deal," pledging Ankara is moving forward "no matter what the consequences will be" — and despite the disruption of Turkey's Lockheed purchased F-35 stealth fighter jets.
This month is where it all appears to be coming to a head: the S-400s will be delivered, and the Pentagon last month established July 31 as the cutoff date for ejecting Turkey from the F-35 program.
Cumhuriyet reporting the first S-400 battery will be deployed to... the former Akinci air base, i.e. the command center of the July 15 coup. https://t.co/9SDnOpOzAL— Piotr Zalewski (@p_zalewski) July 4, 2019
Of the F-35 issue, directly linked to the S-400s due to US fears its advanced stealth fighter's capabilities could be compromised in the presence of Russian S-400 technicians who will be involved in training and initial operation, Erdogan slammed US policy as sheer "theft" based on violating terms of the contract.
“If you are looking for a customer, if you have one, and if this customer had made its payments with no delay, how can you refuse to hand over the customer their goods? This means theft,” Hürriyet quoted Erdogan as saying upon return to Turkey from an official visit to China.
Meanwhile, Turkish media reports have identified Akıncı Air Base, also known as Mürted, as the expected deployment site of the first S-400s.
Via Turkish media reports: "S-400 units, command and control vehicles, and radars will deploy at the airbase and will operate separately from NATO radar network."
The symbolism of this location is significant to Erdogan, given that uring the July 2016 failed coup d'état attempt the air base was used by pro-coup soldiers, resulting in Akıncı being bombed by loyalist planes.