Ankara/Washington/Moscow — As the date for delivery of Turkey’s order of a Russian S-400 air defence system drew closer, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan faced louder and louder warnings. If the shipment went ahead, US officials and analysts cautioned, then US President Donald Trump would have no choice but to impose sanctions that could wreak havoc on the fragile Turkish economy.

Yet in recent weeks, 30 planeloads of radars, missile launchers and support vehicles have arrived at an air base near Ankara, Turkey’s capital, and the threatened sanctions have not materialised. It has taken everyone by surprise...

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