Turkey Challenges US as Russian Missiles Arrive

Updated: July 12, 2019, 1:37 p.m.Russia is delivering its S-400 missile system to Turkey, a move that threatens to rupture Turkish-U.S. relations and puts Russian military technology inside a key NATO alliance member.A Russian transport jet Friday brought the first delivery of the $2.2 billion missile system to a Turkish military air base outside Ankara, causing concern from Brussels to Washington.Washington says the S-400, with its advanced radar that could potentially be used to target NATO jets, threatens to compromise NATO military systems in Turkey. The United States has ruled out delivery of its latest F-35 jet if the Russia missiles are deployed, and Turkish firms face being frozen out of the consortium that is building the F-35.Video shared by Turkish Ministry of Defense, Friday, July 12, showed parts of S-400 missile defense system being unloaded from Russian cargo planes.FILE – Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a meeting of a pro-government trade-union, Ankara, Turkey, July 10, 2019.Erdogan is blaming former U.S. President Barack Obama and Congress for the crisis, for blocking the purchase of U.S. Patriot Missiles.International relations professor Huseyin Bagci of Ankara’s Middle East Technical University said Turkey “feels more and more alone in the Western world” without direct support from any of these countries.”The Russians are the winner of the day, “he added. “The Russians are very successfully creating a conflict between Turkey, NATO and the United States. And the Americans have made a lot of mistakes. They are the architects of this.”Russian-Turkish tiesTurkey’s purchase of S-400s, in the face of strong opposition from Western allies, is part of a broader process of improving Russian-Turkish ties. Erdogan has developed a good relationship with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.Russia and Turkey are increasingly cooperating economically and within the region in particular in Syria. The rapprochement comes as Ankara and Washington face a myriad of differences not only confined to the S-400.Some analysts see Turkey’s escalating crisis with Washington over Russian missiles as part of a more fundamental problem, where the NATO allies’ strategic interests have been increasingly diverging since the end of the Cold War. Ozel, for one, warns that any break between Ankara and the alliance will have serious consequences.”This is not a new relationship with the United States,” he said. “It started in 1947. And NATO membership is 67 years old. And everything about Turkish defense and security is calibrated in the Western alliance. So to say we are leaving this is a fairly revolutionary step, and revolutions bring a lot of destruction.”

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