Jun 04 2019

Turkey delays S-400 delivery for Trump-Erdoğan meet - pro-govt columnist

Turkey appears to have delayed the delivery of Russia’s S-400 missile defence system until after U.S. President Donald Trump and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan talk in Japan at the end of the month, said an analysis for pro-government Yeni Şafak.

U.S. officials have repeatedly said the Russian system is incompatible with American and NATO defence systems, warning of sanctions as well as Turkey’s expulsion from the U.S. F-35 fighter jet programme.

Two sources told Yeni Şafak columnist Mehmet Acet that Russia could begin delivery of the S-400s on June 21. Yet last week, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said the S-400s would not be arriving until after June.

“What could be the reason behind this?” Acet asked in an op-ed on Monday. “Most likely waiting for the Erdoğan-Trump meeting to take place at the end of the month and the results of this meeting.”

In mid-May, Russian officials said there were no delays in the S-400 delivery, responding to U.S. requests to postpone and news reports that Ankara was considering a delay.  

The following week, Washington set what it said was a firm deadline for Turkey to make its S-400 decision: the end of the first week of June, which is now just days away.

Amid increasingly tense U.S.-Turkey relations, the S-400 deal appears to have increased the volatility of the Turkish lira. “This sensitivity is not with respect to Turkey’s purchase of these missiles, but the likelihood of the heavy damage this buying process will inflict on the two country’s relations,” said Acet.

This means the pressure is great to resolve the crisis. Another source told Acet that nothing new was discussed in the Trump-Erdoğan phone call last month, in part because of high expectations for their meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka on June 28-29.

“It is clear from the statements that there will be a detailed and perhaps a final meeting at the end of the month in Japan on the S-400s,” said Acet.