Bloomberg has cited two sources familiar with the discussions as saying that Turkey had suggested that US technical experts study the S-400 missile defence systems that it purchased from Russia in order to “control damage” in relations with Washington stemming from its decision to pursue the contract with Moscow.
Commenting on media reports, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the Russian-Turkish contract envisages Ankara’s non-disclosure of certain data:
“As a rule, Russian military and defence cooperation with other states necessarily envisages legal obligations on non-disclosure of certain categories of information, of sensitive data related to this cooperation. In this case with the Turkish side, there are such obligations as well… We see no reason not to trust our Turkish partners”, he said.
Turkey and the US haven’t commented on the claims yet.
Turkey is a key partner in the US programme to develop the F-35 stealth fighter jets, with 10 Turkish companies expected to produce about $12 billion in parts, including vital components.
Although Turkey has given no indication that it will be willing to abandon the S-400s, the US State Department has approved a potential $3.5 billion sale of Patriot air and missile defence systems to Ankara, having already notified Congress of the certification.
The proposed deal includes up to 140 Patriot missiles, radar and ground control stations and must be approved by Congress.
Unnamed sources with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg that congressional opposition to the Patriot deal softened after the Trump administration contended that Turkey would still face sanctions if it went on with acquiring Russia’s S-400s.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters last month that Ankara would never give up on the S-400 deal with Moscow, but was open to purchasing US hardware in the future.
In December 2017, Russia and Turkey inked an agreement to supply S-400 air defence systems to Ankara. The move triggered major disagreements between the United States and Turkey, with the former threatening to impose sanctions as Washington suggested that the Russia-made weapon was incompatible with NATO defences.
Despite pressure from Washington, Ankara has on multiple occasions warned it against freezing F-35 deliveries, and threatened to take retaliatory measures.