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Turkey Gets First Shipment of Russian Missile System, Defying U.S.



ISTANBUL — The first shipment of a sophisticated Russian surface-to-air missile system arrived in Turkey on Friday, the Turkish Defense Ministry announced, a process that is expected to incur United States sanctions and will test the NATO alliance.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been insistent in his determination to purchase the S-400 system, Russia’s most advanced antiaircraft weaponry, despite warnings from the United States. Washington has warned that the deal will lead to economic penalties against Turkey, a fellow NATO member, and cancellation of Turkey’s purchase of American F-35 fighter jets.

The United States has been unyielding in its opposition to Turkey’s acquisition of the S-400. American officials have argued that the missile system is incompatible with NATO equipment, and that having Turkey operating both the Russian weapons and the F-35 could give Russia access to the American jets’ secret stealth technology.

Mr. Erdogan has pursued the missile system despite American warnings and the damage that sanctions would do to his country’s already suffering economy. Speaking last month, he warned the United States not to risk a larger fissure in ties with Turkey over the missile system, and seemed optimistic that his country would not face any kind of financial penalty from the Americans.

“They should think deeply, because losing a country like Turkey will not be easy,” Mr. Erdogan said of the United States. “If we are friends, if we are strategic partners, then we should handle this issue between each other.”

The S-400 system includes advanced radar that is designed to detect stealth targets as well as other aircraft, and it can also be used against some types of missiles.

The Turkish defense ministry said the first parts of the system arrived at Murted airfield in Ankara on Friday.

Turkey would be liable for sanctions under the 2017 Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA, which mandates United States sanctions against anyone making a significant deal with the Russian defense industry. American officials have said Turkey would incur sanctions as soon as it received the weapon system on its soil.

The law calls on President Trump to select five sanctions from a list of 12 to impose against Turkey. There is no waiver or suspension that could apply to Turkey, but there is no time schedule laid down for enforcement.

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