Turkey plans to draw a “red line” by denying all access to S-400 air defense systems to Russia once they are activated.
“Russian personnel will not have a free hand in accessing the S-400 batteries although training, maintenance and technical support are part of the procurement agreement. This is our red line. The Turkish Air Forces and Turkish companies will be those who have access to the systems,” İsmail Demir, the chairman of the Presidency Defense Industries, said during a video conference with journalists on May 8.
The S-400 has been the apple of discord between Ankara and Washington, with the latter having tried persuading the former to pull out of a $2.5 billion deal with Russia for the systems, ever since it was signed in 2017. Under the contract, Ankara will get a regiment set of S-400s (two battalions). The deal also envisages partial transfer of production technology to the Turkish side.
First batch of the military equipment were delivered to Turkey last July.
Demir added that Turkey has already activated some of the elements of the S-400 systems. "The process of deploying S-400s continues and certain systems have been put into operation," Demir was quoted as saying by Milliyet newspaper on Friday.