Russia is using S-400 issue to undermine Turkey’s rapprochement with West –analyst

Moscow may be using the S-400 issue to apply pressure on Turkey at a time when Ankara is trying to improve its ties with the West, Al Monitor’s Turkish columnist Semih Idiz wrote on Friday.

Last week Alexander Mikheyev, the head of Russia’s arms export agency Rosoboronexport, announced that the second batch of S-400s would soon be heading for Turkey.

Mikheyev revealed that the deal would be finalized soon.

However, Turkey’s defence industry sources have denied this, with one source telling BBC Turkish that:“This is a topic that can be discussed at any time, but we have no such request at this stage.”

“The Russian side is either declaring its intention or trying to manipulate the cooperation we are engaged in with the United States,” Idiz cited the same source as saying.

“We are not reluctant about the second batch of S-400s from Russia or about similar topics,” Erdoğan said. “We have taken many steps with Russia regarding the S-400s or other defence industry matters.”

While the Turkish president did not give details, he, Idiz pointed out, “said nothing to indicate that a deal for the delivery of more S-400s was in the pipeline and would be concluded by the end of the year.”

“Analysts believe Erdoğan is caught between a rock and a hard place with regard to Russia today,” he wrote. “His vision of establishing strategic ties with Moscow to replace Ankara’s seriously deteriorated ties with the West has proven to be little more than a pipe dream.

Idiz pointed out that “Ankara has discovered over these past three years in particular that differences with Moscow and Russia over issues such as Syria, Libya, the Caucasus and Ukraine are not only insurmountable but are also sources of potential tensions between the two countries if not managed carefully.”

Consequently, many argue that Erdoğan “landed himself in a trap of his own making with the S-400 issue by handing Russia a card that it can use to try and influence Turkey’s decisions”.

Idiz maintained that the notion, promoted by Erdoğan and his supporters, that Turkey and Russia could establish strong ties in joint opposition to the Western powers “has proven to be the fallacy that it always was”.

“Made aware of this at a time when it faces serious problems on all sides, Ankara is trying to restore its place in the Western alliance.”