U.S. sanctions over S-400 to provide scapegoat for Turkey’s economic crisis - analyst

U.S. sanctions over Turkey’s planned Russian S-400 defence system purchase will provide a scape­goat for the Turkish economic crisis, bringing about an irreparable rise in anti-West­ern sentiment among the Turkish people, wrote Mehmet Yegin is a Visiting Fellow in the Americas Division at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs.

Turkey’s planned-purchase of the S-400 system has strained ties with the United States, which maintains the systems are not compatible with NATO equipment and may compromise its F-35 fighter jets. Washington has warned of possible U.S. sanctions if Ankara follows through with the Russian deal.

There is also a bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress for halting the delivery of the F-35 stealth fighter jets to Turkey, if Ankara goes ahead with plans to acquire S-400s.

The high-level debate concerning the ramifications of the  S-400s, scheduled for delivery in  July, has refuelled discussions on “Turkey break­ing up with NATO,” Yegin wrote, with analysts and journalists in Washington questioning Turkey’s ties with the alliance.

“Turkey would not put the peace and deterrence pro­vided by NATO at risk in a volatile neigh­borhood. This approach includes Russia-originated threats. Despite conjunctural cooperation between Turkey and Russia, the chances for a new strategic axis cen­tered on the two countries is improbable,’’ the analyst wrote.

Turkey relies on NATO in deterrence discouraging regional adversaries from en­gaging in a full-scale military campaign against Turkey, he stressed, while not wanting to give up the NATO nuclear um­brella in light of some neighbours such as Russia and Iran pos­sessing and striving for the capability of developing nuclear weapons.

Turkey’s de­par­ture from the alliance would pose significant setbacks for NATO, too.

Ankara acting in unison with Moscow in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean would be strategically disadvantageous for the alliance, Yegin said.

“As a country with a Mus­lim-majority population, Turkey pro­vides political legitimacy to NATO missions in Muslim countries,’’ he added.

Ankara circles have depicted the S-400 purchase as a means to gain more autonomy from and better bargaining power with Western allies, the article noted, underlining however that the purchase of S‑400s will not bring about the desired outcomes.

Yegin pointed to a dual de­pendency characterised by vulnerability to Russia and an increased need for assurances from NATO as Turkey nears the end of its bargaining power, as Washington presses with punitive measures.

According to the analyst, the purchase also opens the door to Russian influence and manipulation.

‘’It is wrong to believe that when Turkey receives the S‑400s it will simultaneously receive total control over them. These weapons are not like Bolshevik rifles used in Turkey’s Inde­pendence War after World War One. As a sophisticated weapon system, the producer reserves the possibility to meddle with and hinder the use of the system,’’ Yegin wrote.

Yegin wrote the purchase of S-400s would lead to a more dependence, rather than an autonomy as the Turkish government officials have been arguing:

The purchase that was intended to bring more autonomy to Turkey could paradoxically lead to a “dual dependence” on both Russia and NATO, defined by a vulnerabil­ity vis-à-vis Russia and an increasing need for assurances from NATO. This would be the exact opposite of the intended outcome.