Turkey has reportedly chosen to delay – but not cancel – the delivery of the S-400 surface-to-air missiles from Russia by a few months in an effort to appease the United States over their decision to buy systems that are incompatible with those of NATO.
According to Turkish daily Hurriyet, which cites unnamed diplomats, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told his US counterpart Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a meeting in Washington on June 4 that his country chose to have the S-400s delivered after 19 months, instead of the nine-month option offered by Russia.
The official reason presented by Turkey was that it needed more time to train its soldiers to use the new anti-ballistic missile systems, which would otherwise have to be handled by Russians.
“If we had accepted a nine-month delivery option then we would have no control on the use of S-400s. They would be used only by Russian experts, as national software would not be ready to be uploaded,” according to a Turkish official quoted in Hurriyet.
“Instead, we have chosen the 19-month option so that we could prepare our technical works and use them under fully Turkish control. We are very sensitive on this,” the official added.
Speaking at the Heritage Foundation in Washington on Tuesday, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell warned Turkey of unspecified consequences if it went along with the purchase of the Russian defence systems. US officials have repeatedly called on Turkey to cancel the purchase.