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    Turkey's S-400 Deal Is 'Tool of Political Pendulum' Between US, Russia – Scholar

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    Despite growing pressure from Washington, Turkey has refused to drop its S-400 deal with Russia. Sputnik spoke with Aydin Sezer, the head of the Turkish-Russian Research Centre, about the situation.

    Defence Department spokesperson Charlie Summers earlier announced that if Turkey proceeds with buying Russian defence systems, then the US will be forced to withdraw its supply of not only F-35 jets, but also of Patriot missile systems, which were previously greenlit by the State Department.

    Aydin Sezer believes that Washington will fulfil its threats and will drop Turkey from the F-35 project and will refuse to sell the Patriots that Ankara is in need of. He is also adamant that the US will apply economic sanctions to the country, further deepening the economic crisis that Sezer says Turkey is experiencing.

    The scholar thinks that the move by the US to suspend F-35 and Patriot supplies will negatively affect Turkey's air defence capabilities, despite the latter's statements that the S-400 will boost its defences.

    READ MORE: S-400 Delivery Not Connected to Security of NATO, US, F-35 in Any Way — Erdogan

    In Sezer's opinion, Ankara is counting Washington not going through with its promises, as Turkey is a strong NATO ally. He noted that the S-400 deal is not the only issue affecting bilateral US-Turkey relations, but added that neither of the countries wants to damage relations to with the other beyond repair.

    "The US is also uncomfortable with Turkey's rapprochement with Russia. They are trying to keep their initial negotiation positions for the time being. I think neither of the sides will take the risk of breaking relations, even though both sides uttered almost everything both privately and publicly", he said.

    S-400 as Political Tool

    Sezer points out that Ankara has used the S-400 procurement deal as means of showing Washington that there is always another "option" for Turkey in its foreign policy.

    "It was like a tool of political pendulum between the US and Russia. Turkey made it clear that the Russian option is always on the table on every subject and also proved that by taking part in [the] Astana format with Russia and Iran in Syrian civil war," he said.

    The think tank researcher also added that the purchase of Russian defence systems came as a response to Washington giving a deaf ear to Ankara's calls to cease its collaboration with the PKK/YPG, which the latter views as terrorist organisations.

    READ MORE: Turkey May Let Russia's S-400 Destroy US' F-35 Project ‘From Within' — Report

    The S-400 acquisition also plays into the hands of Erdogan in Turkish domestic politics. According to Sezer, the Turkish president likes to play the "confrontation with USA" card prior to elections and that his party, AKP, will use this narrative ahead of the upcoming local elections.

    Washington's Threats

    Earlier, US Defence Department spokesperson Charlie Summers stated that if Turkey acquires Russian S-400 systems, Washington will be forced to cut its military relationship with Ankara and not deliver F-35s and Patriots. His comments were preceded by US European Command head Curtis Scaparrotti's testimony in Congress, where he advised against providing F-35s to Turkey, citing concerns that the Russian defence system could expose the top US jet's weaknesses.

    At the same time, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reaffirmed the country's commitment to the S-400 deal on 7 March. He also has also considered buying advanced S-500 systems from Russia in the future.

    The views and opinions expressed are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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    opinion, Patriot missile system, F-35 Lightning II, S-400, Turkey, United States, Russia
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