This is worrisome in that Turkey is appearing to be splitting with NATO.
This warms Russia’s heart on so many levels. Splitting up and weakening NATO. Russia gaining a trade partner. Foreign military sales for Russia, providing diversified income (other than oil).
The Turkish military does desperately needs its own long-range air defenses, but there are far more issues at play.
Turkey has reportedly signed deal to co-produce the S-400 surface to air missile system with Russia. The plan has already provoked criticism from the country’s fellow NATO members and could further strain its relationswith the alliance.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made the announcement during a parliamentary meeting with other members of his Justice and Development Party, more commonly known by its acronym AKP, on July 25, 2017. Turkey and Russia have been negotiating the arrangement since November 2016 and Turkish officials reported these talks were in their “final stage” in April 2017.
In turn, the government in Ankara teamed up with its Russian and Iranian counterparts to devise a ceasefire and safe zone plan. The Kremlin revealed the basic parameters of the plan in May 2017 and the final arrangement remains elusive. Earlier in July 2017, American and Russian officials claimed they were working on their own deal to halt at least some of the fighting in Syria, which appeared to incorporate many elements of the earlier Russian-Iranian-Turkish concept. So far, it remains unclear what, if any parts of these plans have gone into effect.
With the situation still so fluid, and reports of increasing fighting between Turkmen and Kurdish rebel groups, Turkey only continues to be disinclined to drop its demands for the Americans to largely cut off military aid to the Syrian Kurds. Erdoğan could potentially use the S-400 deal as diplomatic leverage, but authorities in Washington seem similar dead set in aiding Kurdish forces in Syria, who have so far proven to be the most capable and reliable in taking on ISIS.
“We have already made clear that we will be in cooperation with countries and companies that would lend support to us throughout this process,” Turkish Undersecretary of Defense Industries Ismail Demir had already stressed to reporters back in 2016. “We have said our doors are open and that we are willing to cooperate.”
Given the country’s seemingly intractable differences with the United States over the Kurds, as well as the Turkish military’s clear need for its own long-range air defenses and the country’s desire to expand its self-sufficient defense industry, it seems likely Turkey will proceed with its plans to buy S-400 systems absent any more attractive offer.
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