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Tuesday 20th March 2018

Vagueness on Turkish-Russian Missile S-400 Deal

Politics

Ahmed Fathi

Sun, 12 May 2019 08:36 GMT

The economic crisis in Turkey appears to be hampering the completion of the Russian S-400 missile deal, a Turkish diplomat told a German newspaper.

The Turkish military was originally supposed to receive the first delivery of their Russian S-400 missile defence system order this summer, in a move that angered the US which has threatened the Turkish regime with severe sanctions. 

But, the German newspaper BILD, said that a high-ranking diplomat from Ankara pointed out, “The economic crisis in Turkey is increasing due to Erdogan’s aggressive foreign policy and will make the deal unlikely ". 

He added that “there won’t be a S-400 delivery in July, as the Turkish President has announced, because the purchase would lead to sanctions from Washington – and with the current crisis with the lira, this would be an economic downfall for Turkey”. 

Recently, Turkey’s President Erdogan repeatedly insisted on implementing the deal, but the increasing economic crisis and downfall of the Turkish lira would obviously make the regime change its mind. 

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has, for the time being, stopped the delivery of material for F-35 fighter jets to Ankara because of its dissatisfaction with the planned installation of the controversial Russian missile defence system, as a first step in punishing the Turkish regime. 

But it is not only the US that is concerned about the deal between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Russians. 

There has also been criticism from Germany. 

“We want Turkey to stay firmly grounded in the Western alliance, and we are therefore very concerned about the purchase of the S-400,” said Martin Erdmann, the German ambassador to Ankara, at the Istanbul Security Conference, according to BILD.

The thorny fact is that Turkey would be the first NATO member state to rely on Russian technology. The Russian missile defence system counts as being incompatible with NATO’s systems, however. 

Moreover, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and several prominent US senators have warned Turkey it will face penalties for buying the S-400s under legislation which calls for sanctions against countries procuring military equipment from Russia, Reuters has reported. 

The economic deterioration, the collapse of the currency and the dispute with the United States, are all coming prior to the scheduled re-run of the election in Istanbul, which could affect Erdogan’s ruling party (AKP) chances to win the re-run vote.  

However, on Friday May 10th, Turkey denied the German newspaper report, according to Anadolu, but BILD said that its report depended on diplomatic circles from Ankara; which increases the uncertainty of the deal.  

"The S-400 delivery is a done deal," Fahrettin Altun, a spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, wrote on Twitter with no details or official statement.  

However, the decline of the Turkish lira on Thursday May 9th has raised the central bank’s concerns. The monetary regulator is suspending its weekly repossess auctions in order to tighten its monetary policy and support the lira, BILD has reported. 

The Turkish currency has recently slumped considerably and marked an eight-month low of 6.24 liras against the dollar. This was caused by the repetition of the mayoral election in Istanbul.

Investors are concerned that the country will face weeks of uncertainty until the election on June 23rd. Suspending the repossess auctions is a way for central banks to support the currency.

The Turkish central bank already supported the currency one week ago, prior to the local elections. Since then, the lira has lost more than ten percent in value.


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