Is Turkey’s S-400 deal a pivot to Russia?

Turkey’s decision to purchase Russian S-400 air defence system missiles is partly in response to Moscow’s involvement in Syria, two experts, Gönül Tol and Nilsu Goren, wrote in a report for the Washington-based think tank, the Middle East Institute.

With the $2-billion deal, Turkey hopes to make friends with Russia and eliminate it as a threat, Tol and Goren said, but “the deal fails to address Turkey’s security concerns, further alienates its NATO allies, while providing Moscow more leverage over Ankara.”

Key points of the report are listed as:

  • Turkey is frustrated with NATO, that the alliance did not share Ankara’s threat perceptions in Syria, especially with regards to Russia’s involvement.
  • Turkey remains dependent on foreign military technology for its air defence, and wants to develop its own.
  • Turkey still perceives Russia as a serious threat to its national security, despite the S-400 deal.
  • Russia has been using trade as a strategic leverage against Turkey, the S-400 deal only strengthens Moscow’s hand, visible from Ankara’s change of heart over the Russia’s annexation of Crimea.