The Russians are coming, to Turkey - analysis

May 30, 2019 04:01
1 minute read.
S-400 missile

Russian servicemen drive S-400 missile air defense systems during the Victory Day parade, marking the 73rd anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, at Red Square in Moscow, Russia May 9, 2018. (photo credit: REUTERS/SERGEI KARPUKHIN)

Russian technicians are coming to Turkey to assist in putting the S-400 air defense system into operation, Turkey’s defense minister told Haber Turk TV this week. Russia’s TASS news agency re-reported the event, indicating that Russia is serious about moving ahead quickly with the S-400 deployment. Yet there are conflicting reports that there could be a delay in the delivery of the system, or whether it might arrive ahead of schedule.

Turkey’s decision to buy the Russian defense system has sent murmurs through Turkey’s NATO allies and caused a crisis with Washington.

“The matter of the S-400 purchase is closed,” Hulusi Akar said this week. “It should be understood that it’s a done deal.” Turkey has been saying this for months. Russia and Turkey have discussed the system since 2016, and agreed on Turkey’s purchase in the fall of 2017.

It comes in the context of a growing divide between Ankara and Washington on several issues. Foremost is Turkey’s increasing discussions with Russia regarding the end of the Syrian conflict. Turkey and Russia signed a deal to prevent conflict in Idlib last September. They are also working on energy deals. Turkey is also angered by US support for the Syrian Democratic Forces, which Ankara says the Kurdistan Workers Party is linked to.

Now, Turkey has sent personnel to Russia to learn to use the S-400, and it appears Russians are going to Turkey. Bloomberg says that there could be a delay in the delivery. But Russia says that there is no delay, according to Turkey’s Hurriyet. On May 21, CNBC reported that Turkey had been threatened by the US that it has only two weeks to cancel the S-400 deal.

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