Is the US flip-flopping on Turkey’s S-400 deal?

US Acting Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan today said he expects to resolve the dispute with Turkey on the occasion of the purchase of Russia’s S-400 Russian missile system from Russia, one day after the Pentagon announced it was stopping deliveries of fighting equipment F-35 aircraft.

“I had a lot of talks with Minister of Defense (Turkey) Hulusi Akar, and I am convinced that we will sort things out with our strategic partners,” Shanahan said, welcoming his Mongolian counterpart, Nyamaagiin Enkhbold, to the Pentagon.

“I think we will solve the problem in such a way that (the Turks) have the right defense equipment with the Patriot and the F-35,” he added. The US has been trying to persuade Turkey to buy the American Patriot system instead of the S-400.

In view of the NATO summit in Washington, a Pentagon official demanding anonymity stressed that Turkey remains a major ally and partner in the US, despite concerns about the Russian system. “Our relationship is not determined by the individual issue of the S-400, but the S-400 is a deeply problematic issue for the US,” he said.

According to the same source, NATO’s Foreign Ministers’ meeting will focus on the military threat posed by Russia to the Alliance, but also the peace process in Afghanistan. A third issue will be the defense budgets of the member countries and their contribution to NATO.

The official stressed that allies would try to agree on a package of measures to boost NATO’s military presence in the Black Sea, a region that has been centered after the seizure of Ukrainian ships from Moscow last year.

He added that Thursday’s plenary would be focused on Russia and Moscow’s violation of the INF treaty for medium-range nuclear weapons. The US threatens to withdraw from the treaty this summer if Moscow does not stop violating it, which Russia firmly denies it does.

“All the elements of the Russian threat will be discussed,” he continued, mentioning among other things Russia’s military interventions in Ukraine and Georgia, the chemical attack… in Britain, and Russian interventions in the electoral process.

With regard to Afghanistan, he said the peace process is continuing and the reduction in military presence in this country will probably depend on the outcome of the negotiations.

Previously, Deputy Defense Minister Patrick M. Shanahan said that he expects to resolve the controversy with Turkey over the purchase of Russia’s S-400 air defense system, a day after the F-35-related equipment deliveries to Ankara were suspended.

“I expect we will solve the problem to have the right defense equipment for Patriots and F-35s,” Shanahan told reporters at the Pentagon. Washington tried to persuade Turkey to buy the Patriot defense system instead of the S-400.

According to Reuters, Shanahan added that he expects the F-35 to be delivered to Turkey. We note that the term set by the White House towards Tayyid Erdogan is to cancel the order of the Russian S-400 system.