ISTANBUL — Disregarding criticism from the United States and Greece, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his military has tested a Russian-made S-400 missile defense system that undermines NATO and could be used against Greece.
Greece, Turkey and the US belong to the defense alliance which stayed quiet during constant Turkish violations of Greek airspace and waters with fighter jets and warships.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, admitted there's little that can be done to stop Turkish aggression, is trying to de-escalation measures after planned talks between Greece and Turkey were called off when Turkey sent an energy research vessel and warships near the Greek island of Kastellorizo.
That set off fears of a conflict, accidental or otherwise, and Greece – after Turkey bought the S-400 – has been adding to its arsenal and said it would beef up the armed forces with more members.
While the European Union is reluctant to get tough on Turkey, the US has threatened sanctions over the testing of the S-400 because American armed forces take part in joint military exercises with NATO, including with Greece.
"(The tests) have been and are being conducted. The United States' stance absolutely does not concern us. If we are not going to test these capabilities at our disposal, then what are we going to do?" Erdogan told reporters.
The purchase of the Russian system kept Turkey from being able to buy US-made F-35 fighter jets – which are at risk from the S-400 – and NATO has said almost nothing about Turkey buying weapons from an ideological enemy of the alliance.
Turkey signed the S-400 deal with Russia in 2017. Deliveries of the first four missile batteries, worth $2.5 billion, began in July last year, said the news agency Reuters in a look at the developments.
Erdogan said Turkey will continue testing military equipment including light, medium and heavy weapons, including many bought from the United States.
"It seems that the gentlemen (in the US) are especially bothered that this is a weapon belonging to Russia. We are determined, we are continuing on our path as always," he said, buying weapons from both sides