President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed that Turkey had test-fired its controversial Russian-made S-400 missile batteries, saying he wouldn’t seek U.S. approval.

“It is true that tests have been carried out,” Erdogan said in televised remarks in Istanbul on Friday. “What are we supposed to do, not test these capabilities? Obviously we’re not going to ask the U.S.” for permission.

The test, carried out last week on the missile system Turkey bought from Moscow in 2019, was criticized by NATO allies alarmed over the advanced weaponry’s potential to gather intelligence on western capabilities, especially the F-35 stealth fighter jet.

Kay Bailey Hutchison, U.S. ambassador to the alliance, told an online press conference in Brussels on Wednesday that the firing was “very troubling.”

Erdogan rejected the criticism. “Look, Greece has S-300s in its hand. Let alone testing them, it is using them,” he said. “Does U.S. say anything to them? No.”

The test-firing of the missiles fits with Erdogan’s regional projection of Turkish power. It was also likely a calibrated snub to the U.S., which for years has refused to comply with Turkey’s conditions for purchasing its Patriot alternative.

He vowed to keep testing weapons in Turkey’s inventory, including the S-400s.

Turkey Puts Missile Spat at NATO’s Door Before Meeting

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