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Turkey approaches point of no return on employing Russian air defense system

Ankara’s decision to test-fire its controversial Russian missiles, overriding US warnings, appears driven by a combination of motives related to its ties with both Washington and Moscow.

Defying US threats of sanctions, Turkey last week test-fired at least one missile of its Russian S-400 air defense systems in what was ostensibly a show of resolve to activate the systems, but Ankara might be eyeing other objectives as well.

While Ankara has neither confirmed nor denied the six-hour test, an anonymous US official told Reuters that Turkey did test the S-400 system. Turkish authorities had issued an aviation notice earlier this month that unspecified missiles would be fired near the Black Sea city of Sinop in mid-October. Experts analyzing footage of a missile launch in the area Oct. 16 have identified the projectile as an S-400 missile of the 40N6E type, which has a range of 400 kilometers (248 miles), based on the engine ignition type and the angle and route of the smoke. Two other tests were expected to take place in the same area by Oct. 19.

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