ISTANBUL --- Turkey is prepared to receive the Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile defense system in two weeks, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced during his visit to Japan for the G20 Osaka summit. Last week, ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) spokesperson Ömer Çelik also said the places where S-400 will be deployed have been determined without revealing further details.
According to the information obtained from the security sources, the first of the two S-400 batteries Turkey will receive will be located in Akıncı Air Base in the capital province of Ankara. Akıncı was the command base for putschist soldiers during the coup attempt that took place three years ago in July 2016. The second S-400 battery will reportedly be placed in a strategically important location in the eastern and southeastern region of Turkey, yet the reports have not been confirmed.
Turkey's decision to purchase a Russian-made defense system has been one of the reasons for the strained ties with Turkey's NATO ally, the U.S., which has argued that the Russian system will compromise the security of NATO systems, particularly the F-35 stealth jet fighter.
However, the air of tension has recently been toned down at a meeting between Erdoğan and U.S. President Donald Trump. The U.S. president pinned the blame for the row between the U.S. and Turkey over the S-400 deal and F-35 jets on former President Barack Obama, saying it was not Erdoğan's fault. Trump said it was Obama's administration that did not allow Ankara to buy Patriot missiles.
"They [Obama administration] wouldn't sell it to him [Erdoğan]; they wouldn't let him buy the missile he wanted to buy which is the Patriot. And after he buys something else, they tell him we will sell you the Patriot," Trump said.
Tensions between the U.S. and Turkey have reached a fever pitch in recent months with Ankara set to begin receiving the advanced Russian surface-to-air missile system in two months. The U.S. has already suspended deliveries of parts and services related to Turkey's receipt of the multimillion-dollar jets.
Turkey decided in 2017 to purchase the S-400 system following protracted efforts to purchase air defense systems from the U.S. with no success.
However, U.S. officials have advised Turkey to buy the Patriot missile system rather than the S-400 system from Moscow, arguing it is incompatible with NATO systems. Turkey has responded that it was the U.S. refusal to sell the Patriots that led it to seek other sellers, adding that Russia offered a better deal, including technology transfers.