Until recently, fundamentally undermined relations between the US and Turkey seem to have begun to recover. Washington and Ankara reached a meaningful agreement for Syria on both sides, but more importantly, the Turkish Foreign Minister made a statement directly concerning the purchase of Russian S-400 complexes. The words of Cavusoglu are difficult to understand otherwise than as a rejection of all the promises that Turkey gave to Moscow on this matter.
If the United States is ready to sell Turkey anti-aircraft missile systems, Ankara "is ready to acquire them," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Monday in Washington. He stated this before the decisive round of talks with his counterpart, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The context in which this statement was made is quite clear - Cavusoglu himself designated it. The Turkish-Russian agreement on the purchase of the S-400 complexes "Triumph" caused tensions between Ankara and Washington, the Turkish Foreign Minister reminded. The issue of Turkey's delivery of American F-35 fighters was in question.
The phrase of Cavusoglu, in fact, looks like a hint to the Americans that Turkey can abandon the deal so annoying Washington - and acquire American weapons. He reminded his American partners: Ankara, before the contract with Russia, discussed the possibility of acquiring air defense systems from its allies, including the United States, but they refused. This was the reason for Ankara's treatment of Moscow.
The deal with Russia, which the Americans openly seek to derail, at the end of last year seemed almost unshakable. In December, Russia and Turkey signed a loan agreement for the supply of two C-400 batteries. It was also stated that Ankara fully agreed with Moscow on the agreement to acquire four divisions of the Triumphs. The presidential aide on military technical cooperation, Vladimir Kozhin, said back in September that the delivery of C-400 to Turkey will begin at the end of 2019 - the beginning of 2020. According to him, Ankara has already made advance payment for C-400. Soon the advance payment was confirmed by the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In December, the newspaper Kommersant, Sergei Chemezov, said that Turkey purchases four S-400 SAM batches worth 2,5 billion dollars. 45% of this amount will be paid by Turkey as an advance, 55% will be a Russian loan.
In the spring, the Americans began pressure on Turkey, bringing the relationship with their NATO ally to the boiling point, according to the same Cavusoglu. As already noted by the newspaper VZGLYAD, the State Department, and then the congressmen moved to direct blackmail. Ankara was made clear: if the purchase of Russian complexes takes place, then Turkey will have to apply the law "On Countering America's opponents through sanctions." And in this case, the Turks clearly do not see the fifth generation F-35 fighters in which it is interested. The same goes for other supplies: F-16 fighters, Patriot antiaircraft guns, heavy transport helicopters CH-47 Chinook and other "goodies". The other day, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo again warned openly: Washington is working to prevent Turkey from acquiring S-400 from Russia.
Together with the whip, the Americans used carrots. Pompeo added in May that Washington not only threatens, but also "offers alternatives." His colleague, Pentagon chief James Mattis said that the US is ready to provide Turkey with other anti-aircraft missile systems that will meet the standards of the North Atlantic alliance. It is possible that the Americans offer their anti-aircraft complexes "Patriot". In other words, the obstacle, which Turkey mentioned - the US refusal to supply air defense systems - has been eliminated. And the statement of Cavusoglu is difficult to understand otherwise than as the fact that Turkey agrees to a deal with the US. And consequently, she no longer needs Russian C-400. Ankara has achieved what it was trying to achieve initially - the supply of American air defense systems.
Last week Ankara was still stubborn. The same Cavusoglu said: if the deal on the delivery of F-35 fighters fails, then Turkey "will not remain without alternatives" - it will be able to acquire similar aircraft not only from US partners in NATO, but also from Russia. The Turkish Foreign Minister poured oil on the fire after publishing in the local press. Journalists claimed that Ankara can buy from Russia the Su-57 party, in vain, that this fighter is still "raw" - at the testing stage. The purchase by the Turks of both Russian anti-aircraft complexes and fighter planes would be a slap in the face to the States. But if the obstinate NATO partner was not broken, then in any case, they pushed to start bargaining with the United States. As a result, what the American press called the other day "a nightmare for NATO" was in question.
This kind of bidding followed by a breakdown of the deal at the final stage has become a familiar tactic for the Turks.
It may be recalled how several years ago Ankara "took offense" at NATO after the alliance, in spite of Ankara's requests, withdrew the Patriots from the country. Then Turkey began negotiations with China on the purchase of HQ-9 long-range air defense systems ("Red flag - 9", analogue of our C-300). The Chinese manufacturer was announced the winner in the tender. A contract was signed for 4 billion dollars. The Turkish Minister of Defense told about the far-reaching plans of Beijing and Ankara for the development of air defense. But enough was the "request" of NATO, so that Turkey did not buy anything - the contract was terminated.
It is likely that this time the Turks will "throw" Russia, believes the director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Central Asia Semyon Bagdasarov. "Ankara is solving the issue with Washington, which was the main stumbling block in their relations - the Kurdish question, or rather, the issue of American support for the YPG (" Democratic Union ") party, which is considered to be the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers' Party. As Washington pressures, as Turkey is ready to compromise on this issue, the Turks will be ready to "merge" us in full, "Bagdasarov told VZGLYAD. In his opinion, Ankara uses the threat to reorient itself for the purchase of Russian or Chinese weapons just for the purpose of counter blackmail and "wiring" of Americans and NATO members.
For Russia, the deal to sell S-400 was more political than economic or military-technical in nature; to the same extent, this also applied to Turkey, says Alexander Vasiliev, a researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Russian-Turkish Studies and Research Center of the Russian State University for Humanities. But, he noted, in the behavior of Ankara an important role is played not only by its political games, but also by military-technological plans. Fears that Turkey would break the deal existed since the beginning of the talks. Vasiliev explains: "The fact is that the Turks from this break, in fact, do not lose anything. It is much more important for technology transfer. A number of Turkish companies produce separate components of the Patriot complexes. Therefore, it will be easier for them to master the production of the American system. "
Not surprisingly, now Cavusoglu started talking about the possibility of buying American systems.
"Judging by how the story developed with the creation of Turkey's own air defense assets, the Turks viewed the acquisition of C-400 as a temporary step," Vasiliev said. - I will remind you that
at the time when it was announced about the purchase of C-400, the Turkish defenders agreed with the Europeans on the joint development of medium and long-range air defense systems.
That is, Turkey's plans were quite obvious. "
In the evening on Monday it was announced that the negotiations between Cavusoglu and Pompeo had been completed successfully. The parties signed the "road map" for Manbiju. Earlier, Cavusoglu explained that such a "road map" provides for the withdrawal of Kurdish forces from this northern Syrian city, which the Turks themselves dream of capturing. The fate of Manbijah has been for several years an apple of discord between Ankara and Washington. According to Cavusoglu, the signing of the road map will be a "turning point" for the relations of the two allies in the NATO bloc.
And, perhaps, it will also become part of the deal on Turkey's refusal to buy Russian air defense systems.