Russia Jabs NATO With Sale Of Anti-Aircraft Missiles To Turkey

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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter
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Russia is putting the finishing touches on a deal to supply Turkey with four advanced surface-to-air missile batteries, according to the head of Russian state conglomerate Rostec.

Turkey, a full NATO member since 1952, is expected to acquire the S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems for $2.5 billion, reports Reuters, citing an announcement made by Rostec chief Sergei Chemezov on Wednesday. Turkey will pay 45 percent of the cost up front, and Russia will provide loans to cover the remaining 55 percent, Chemezov said.

The deal has caused concern among the NATO member states because the S-400 system cannot be integrated into NATO’s air defenses and because it is further evidence of stronger ties between Ankara and Moscow. Although both countries were on opposite sides in the Syrian proxy war, Turkey has begun to deepen security cooperation with Russia as that conflict winds down.

Aaron Stein, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, says Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has weakened the traditional “firewall” between Turkey’s security cooperation with NATO and its economic relationship with Moscow.

“The roots of this breakdown start in Syria, where Russia defeated Turkish proxies on the battlefield, and have culminated in Moscow’s cultivation of Turkey as one component of its multi-pronged (and often contradictory) efforts to end the Syrian civil war,” he wrote in a piece published Wednesday in War on the Rocks. “Ankara, in turn, appears intent on using the purchase of a Russian made air defense system to deepen economic ties — a policy decision that threatens Turkey’s standing in NATO and risks further tensions with the United States.”

The impending missile deal comes as relations between the NATO and Russia are deeply strained, particularly over Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula and continued U.S. sanctions against Moscow.

Turkey is the first NATO country to acquire the advanced S-400 missile system, Chemezov said Wednesday. Moscow expects the first delivery of the batteries to begin in 2020.


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