In an attempt to build up its air defense systems, Turkey is finalizing a deal to purchase the Russian S-400 weapons system. Ankara’s decision is in part a response to the threat posed by Russian involvement in Syria. Turkey is hoping that cultivating closer ties with Moscow might remove Russia as a threat. But, as this paper illustrates, the deal fails to address Turkey’s security concerns, further alienates its NATO allies, while providing Moscow more leverage over Ankara.
- As Russia takes an aggressive stance in Syria, Turkey is frustrated with NATO for dragging its feet on security assistance and differences in threat perceptions.
- Turkey wants to become more independent in its defense technology, but remains reliant on other states for air and missile defense systems.
- The deal is hardly a sign of a strong Turkey-Russia strategic partnership. On the contrary, Turkey still views Russia as one of the biggest threats to its national security.
- Russia has used trade as a point of strategic leverage against Turkey in the past. This latest deal only deepens Turkey’s vulnerability to Russian policies.
- Turkey’s zigzagging on issues with Russia, such as Crimea’s annexation, demonstrates Ankara’s increasingly weak hand in relation to Moscow.