This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the Russian S-400 missile defense system will be fully deployed in April 2020.
Turkey’s purchase of the Russian system has raised tensions with its NATO allies, particularly the United States, which has warned Turkey that it will respond with sanctions.
Speaking on July 15 on the third anniversary of 2016’s attempted coup, Erdogan said eight planes had already brought parts of the Russian system and more were coming.
“With God’s permission, they will have been installed in their sites by April 2020,” he told a crowd at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport.
U.S. officials have said that in addition to being hit with legislation aimed at preventing countries from purchasing military equipment from Russia, known as CAATSA, Turkey could be thrown off the F-35 stealth fighter jet program.
On July 14, Erdogan said that U.S. President Donald Trump has the authority to waive sanctions on Turkey for its purchase of Russian air defense systems and should find a “middle ground” in the dispute.
Tensions between Turkey and Western allies have risen in recent months over the purchase of the S-400 system, with a series of other actions taken by the NATO member state compounding the situation.
German and Austrian ministers said on July 15 that the European Union would endorse a symbolic punishment for Turkey over what it calls “illegal” drilling for oil and gas off Cyprus and threaten harsher sanctions unless Ankara changes tack.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had said on July 14 that Turkey will continue drilling for gas in waters off Cyprus if the internationally recognized Greek Cypriot government does not accept a cooperation proposal put forward by Turkish Cypriots.