Turkey reconsidering S-400 purchase at request of U.S. - report
Turkey is discussing a request extended by the United States to delay the purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defence system slated for delivery in July, Bloomberg reported on Monday.
Turkish journalist Asli Aydintasbas was the first to tweet on the possibility of a delayed S-400 purchase. On Thursday, she said that Turkey may "indefinitely delay" the planned purchase or deployment of the S-400. On Friday, German newspaper Bild, citing its own sources who are Turkish authorities, reported that Turkey is changing its mind about purchasing the S-400.
"The S-400 delivery is a done deal," Turkish Presidential Communications Director, Fahrettin Altun wrote on Twitter Friday, quoting Bild's tweet.
"Take it from me: The S-400 procurement is a done deal," he said.
Bloomberg adds a new twist to this narrative on Monday by claiming that the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump asked Ankara last week to postpone receiving the advanced S-400 missile defence system and that the Ankara is weighing on the issue.
The same report also suggests that both countries may be nearing a deal in which joint patrols from both countries' military units monitor a proposed northeast Syria safe zone.
Turkey has sent several emissaries to Washington to function as backchannels in recent months and test various options, led by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's close adviser Mucahit Arslan and former U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan Matt Bryza.
The two visited Washington after local elections in Turkey, following Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak and Defense Minister Hulusi Akar's visit to Washington and held meetings with the U.S. authorities, including at the White House and Pentagon to find ways to ease a list of tensions between the NATO allies, including the S-400 spat.
A U.S. source in Washington told Ahval that Bryza and Arslan also visited Washington in January 2018 to meet with then-Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, A. Wess Mitchell. Similar channels used during the crisis of American Pastor Andrew Brunson's imprisonment.
U.S. officials have been warning their Turkish counterparts finalising the purchase may result in sanctions. Congress is currently contemplating sanctions, and the “Countering America's Adversaries through Sanctions Act” (CAATSA) is expected to be triggered soon.
The Pentagon has already halted shipments of the F-35 stealth jets, which Turkey was slated to receive more than 100 F-35A and F-35B versions of. Various Congressional bills and State Department budget foresee blocking the transfer of F-35s if the S-400 purchase is finalised.