There had been no scheduled trip to Russia before the phone conversation that took place last Friday between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
It is blatantly obvious that Putin persistently invited Erdoğan to the country, and hence the president cleared his Tuesday schedule and decided to take a one-day trip to Moscow.
It had been ascertained that the Idlib crisis would be the hot topic of the visit, but it turned out not to be so.
The reason for the invite and the persistence emerged yesterday.
As the Russian plane transporting the second delivery of the S-400 batteries were beginning to land at the Murted Air Base near Ankara, Erdoğan and Putin made an appearance at the International Aviation and Space Salon MAKS-2019 .
The most striking detail of the exhibition was the photos of Erdoğan while examining the Russian Fifth-generation Su-57 warplanes.
The photos in which Putin was describing the details of the fighter jets and Erdoğan closely listening to him.
Can we consider this picture as the start of a new partnership for the S-57s, just as the one that took place in Sochi for the S-400s?
This very well may be possible in a couple of years.
On May 3, 2017, when I was attending a one-day program as a journalist while President Erdoğan was visiting Sochi, I had perceived that there was more than meets the eye.
As the press was being briefed for 15 minutes on the difficulties facing tomato imports, the deal for the S-400s had already been completed.
My instincts proved to be right: The reason for affixing more importance than necessary to tomato imports had come out into the open much later.
This time round however, such a method wasn’t necessary.
As Erdoğan and Putin were posing in front of the Su-57 fighter jets, they were acting in a calculated manner, measuring how and to whom the messages they were sending would be perceived.
More than a business deal
A second business deal between Turkey and Russia, following the S-400 transaction, which is still being globally discussed, will no doubt have a significance that goes beyond a commercial agreement.
As far as Ankara is concerned, this equation has been declared with a crystal clear announcement: “We wanted to buy Patriot missiles, but you didn't sell them; so we were forced to turn toward the Russian system.
Now you are ousting us from the F-35 program, in which we are a partner. So we will turn toward other alternatives.”
“The U.S. doesn’t want Turkey to have both systems”
When I was discussing the S-400 issue with a security official at the end of June, I made an observation that the “Americans didn’t want Turkey to simultaneously have either an air defense or offense system. Hence, they don’t want Turkey to have both the S-400s and the F-35 fighter jets. This is the main reason they are ousting us from the F-35 program.”
In the month of July it was tested whether Turkey would bow down to U.S. pressures and sanction threats regarding the S-400s.
Erdoğan did not bow down to threats and the parts of the S-400 system had started to be delivered to the Murted Air Base.
This was followed by Washington putting Plan B into play: “These components have been delivered, but if you activate these missiles, things will be bad...” they had started to say.
The picture in Moscow yesterday indicates that President Erdoğan will respond to U.S. pressure regarding the Russian-made defense system with “counter-attacks.”
With that photo in Moscow, he displayed what the consequences will be of ousting Turkey from the F-35 program.
Under these circumstances, it is clear what will happen if things continue the way they’re going:
The U.S., which doesn’t want Turkey to have both an air defense system and new generation war jets, might find face to face with a NATO ally whose army is decked with Russian weapons.