Turkey-U.S. dispute over S-400 threatening key NATO front - Business Insider

The row between the United States and Turkey over Ankara’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile system adds to longstanding rifts in NATO, which relies on Turkey as a major player in a strategically important region, Business Insider said on Wednesday. 

Lack of cooperation by Turkey, NATO’s second-largest military anchoring the alliance in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea, will greatly undermine the alliance, Business Insider said citing analysts.

Turkey arming itself with Russian weaponry would erode "interoperability, which is quite necessary ... to work with other NATO members and to have a combined focus and combined objective," Omar Lamrani, a senior military analyst at the geopolitical analysis firm Stratfor, told Business Insider.

Ankara and Moscow in Sept. 2017 signed a loan agreement for the supply of Russian S-400 air defence systems to Turkey. The United States and its NATO allies see the Russian system as incompatible with NATO systems and posing a security threat to the F-35 stealth fighter. Turkey began to take delivery of S-400 components in late July, prompting Washington to remove Turkey from the F-35 fighter jets production programme.

A meeting last week between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Washington failed to resolve the S-400 issue, the article said.

Ankara reiterated that it would not back out of the deal to purchase system following the meeting.

According to Henri Barkey, adjunct senior fellow for Middle East studies at the Council of Foreign Relations, Turkey is playing a waiting game where the S-400 is concerned.

Erdoğan’s senior foreign-policy adviser, İbrahim Kalın, has said Turkey would not give up the S-400 and he was confident that the Russian system could co-exist with the F-35s.

"No American defense professional could ever consent to that,’’ Barkey wrote in an article he penned for the Asia Times on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, there is no denying that NATO needs Turkey in the region, as a vital player in the Black Sea, the Business Insider said.

"If NATO cannot depend on Turkey when it faces off against Russia, they effectively have lost their most important naval player in the Black Sea," where, outside of war, Turkey's navy is "even more important than the US Navy, because the US Navy is restricted in the amount of tonnage and the amount of warships it can send into the Black Sea at any one point," Lamrani said.

"If Turkey is not going to work with you, it's basically a Russian lake," he added.