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Turkey clears way for S-400 test, prompting US warning

ISTANBUL: A missile was fired into the sky on Friday on Turkey’s Black Sea coast where the military was expected to test its Russian-made S-400 defence systems, drawing a strong warning from the United States.

The video, taken in the coastal city of Sinop, showed a narrow column of smoke headed high into the blue sky. In recent days Turkey had issued notices restricting air space and waters off the coastal area to allow firing tests.

A US official said Turkey had tested the S-400 system on Friday, but did not provide details.

Tests of the S-400s, if verified, could stoke tensions between Turkey and the United States, which sharply opposed Ankara’s purchase of the weapons from Moscow on grounds they compromise shared Nato defence systems.

State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said the United States has expressed to the most senior levels of the Turkish government that the acquisition of Russian military systems such as the S-400 is unacceptable, adding that Washington has been clear on its expectation that the system should not be operationalised.

“If confirmed, we would condemn in the strongest terms the S-400 test missile launch as incompatible with Turkeys responsibilities as a Nato ally and strategic partner of the United States,” Ortagus added.

The Pentagon, separately, said that the S-400 should not be activated.

“Turkey has already been suspended from the F-35 programme and the S-400 continues to be a barrier to progress elsewhere in the bilateral relationship,” a Pentagon spokesman said.

Turkey’s defence ministry said it would neither deny nor confirm missile tests.

Washington reacted last year by suspending Turkey from its F-35 jet programme and has threatened sanctions.

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