Russia could end U.S.-Turkey alliance - analysis

The decades-long alliance between Turkey and the United States was born of the Soviet threat, yet it is now Russia that may end it, said an analysis for U.S. think tank the Brookings Institution. 

Last week, Turkey began receiving shipments of Russian-made S-400 missile systems, which U.S. officials say is incompatible with U.S. and NATO defences, repeatedly threatening Turkey with sanctions. On Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump said the United States would halt the sale of F-35 stealth fighter jets to Turkey. 

“Through economic and military aid, President Harry Truman tried to prevent Turkey and Greece from falling under Soviet influence in 1947,” non-resident Brookings fellow Galip Dalay wrote for Brookings. “With a twist of irony, it is now Russia that may break this alliance.”

Turkey and Russia have deepened relations in recent years, in Syria, in energy cooperation with the TurkStream pipeline, and with the S-400 deal, while Ankara’s relations with Washington have declined, according to Dalay. 

“Divergence and decoupling have been the dominant forces of U.S.-Turkey relations in recent years,” said Dalay, pointing to threats from both sides and sharp divides over Kurdish militia in Syria, as well as Iran and Russia. 

“The level of trust between the two sides is at a historical low. Institutional ties are fraying, particularly at the military-to-military level,” said Dalay, arguing that Ankara believes Washington undermines Turkey’s regional position, as with the Eastern Mediterranean Security Act. 

Still, heavy sanctions on Turkey for the S-400 deal could drive Turkey closer to Russia, according to Dalay. 

“Peeling Turkey further away from the West and undermining NATO are precisely what Russia covets. Such a realignment will make Turkey even more introverted and democratically retrograde, and serve neither Turkish nor Western interests,” said Dalay.