Ankara does not intend to abandon the contract with Russia to accommodate US requirements. A statement to this effect came from the country's Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, who explained that Russia has made up its mind about beginning to deliver four divisions of S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft missile systems in June of 2019.
This aspect of Turkish-Russian military-technical relations has caused disagreements in relations between Ankara and Washington, the current state of which may escalate into a violent confrontation. The US leadership vigorously opposes the acquisition of the Russia's Triumph systems and insists on the purchase of its American analogue, the Patriot.
Turkish-American negotiations on this transaction have been underway since the beginning of the century. Ankara is ready to purchase a batch of these weapons if the supplier provides all the industrial engineering documentation approving of production in Turkey. Washington fervently rejected the claim of its NATO ally.
Turkey took an active part in the R&D of the promising fifth-generation F-35 fighter, having in return gained the right to purchase 36 machines of this type on attractive terms. Delivery of the first combat aircraft was scheduled for mid-2018 before being postponed indefinitely. The Pentagon motivates its refusal by the pretext of Russia's access to the US secret stealth technology used by the F-35 Turkish air force, and by developing measures to combat this aircraft.
The Pentagon once again peremptorily demanded that Turkey abandon the deal with Russia, threatening to impose tougher financial and economic sanctions. However, the parties do not exclude the possibility of pursuing negotiations on the Patriot air defense systems. At the same time, it is entirely possible that Washington will have to make some concessions to Ankara on this issue by early summer 2019 in order to counter the establishment of military-technical relations between Turkey and Russia.
NATO's military-political leadership has a negative attitude to the Turkish-Russian contract on Triumph under the false pretext of incompatibility with air defense means of Western (American) production deployed in the Alliance's member states. At the same time, NATO forgot that earlier this century Greece (namely Cyprus) bought Russia's advanced S-300 systems, and almost no one accused it of betrayal attempts.
When purchasing Triumph, the Turks proceed from purely pragmatic assumptions: Russian anti-aircraft missile systems will cost way cheaper, is easier-to-work, has higher combat and technical characteristics compared to its American equivalent.
And after all, it appears to be too late for Ankara to drop the supply of Russian systems: Russia spent at least three years training Turkish military units and technicians in its territory. Turkey's Ministry of National Defense is not particularly upset about the frozen transfer of American fifth-generation fighters: there are talks about acquiring Russia's analogue of the SU-57.
As for the strengthened US sanctions, Turkey holds the key leverage over its partner, without raising the question of reducing US air force's use of Turkish air bases, if at all. Such a presentation of the problem will be highly likely if relations between the two Atlantic partners keep developing the same way...