Russia starts production of S-400 missiles for Turkey

Russia began production of S-400 missiles destined for Turkey, Hürriyet newspaper said citing the head of the company exporting the weapons.

“We have begun implementing the agreement,” said Aleksandr Miheyev, head of Russian arms manufacturer Rosoboroneksport, the newspaper reported.

Russia has agreed to sell four batteries of the air defence missiles to the Turkish government, helping to cement a new alliance grounded in common interests in Syria and developing economic ties. Russian firms are also building a nuclear power station on Turkey’s southern coast, causing further disquiet among Western allies who are concerned that Turkey, under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is distancing itself from its commitments to NATO.

There are further processes and stages to come before Russia delivers the missiles, Miheyev said, according to Hürriyet.

The order for the missiles from Russian firms subject to U.S. sanctions has raised the prospect that Turkey may be confronted with the same fate. U.S. senators have already warned that Turkey is crossing a redline for making the purchase.

Relations between Turkey and its traditional Western partners have deteriorated sharply over the past two years due to the emerging Russian relationship, the circumventing of U.S. sanctions on Iran by Turkish officials and the continued presence of Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, blamed by the Turkish government for masterminding a failed military coup in July 2016, in the United States. Erdogan's increasing authoritarianism has frayed ties further.