Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the purchase of highly advanced S-400 surface-to-air missile systems from Russia has been completed.

The purchase had actually been agreed to and made public months ago, but Erdogan’s announcement on Monday was the first time he confirmed that the money to pay for the system had been transferred.

Turkey is a longtime member of NATO, but the purchase went outside of established protocols for NATO-approved equipment. Member states are typically required to have military systems approved by the alliance, and that approval is mostly reserved for weapons systems that are compatible with NATO member militaries.

Perhaps anticipating pushback from NATO HQ in Brussels, Erdogan said in a statement: “Nobody has the right to discuss the Turkish republic’s independence principles or independent decisions about its defense industry. We make the decisions about our own independence ourselves — we are obliged to take safety and security measures in order to defend our country.” [source]

Analyst comment: This is the latest signal that Turkey is moving out of NATO’s and the West’s sphere of influence and into Russia’s zone, which was unthinkable during the Cold War. It may be time for Washington to rethink keeping American military assets including nuclear weapons on Turkish soil.