MESOP TOP OF THE AGENDA : Arrival of Russian Missile System in Turkey Raises Tensions

Turkey received its first shipment (FT) of the Russian S-400 air defense system today, Ankara said, setting the stage for likely U.S. sanctions and heightening tensions with its NATO allies.

U.S.-Turkey relations have worsened as Turkey has sought closer ties with Russia in the wake of disagreements between Ankara and Washington over the Syrian civil war. The United States has warned that Turkey’s plans to acquire the Russian S-400 would bar it from receiving (CNN) U.S. F-35 fighter jets set for use by NATO countries out of concern for the jet’s sensitive technology. Under a 2017 law, Turkey will also face sanctions (WaPo) for expanding its ties with Russia’s defense industry.

In Foreign Affairs, Aaron Stein traces the steps that led Turkey to turn its back on the United States and embrace Russia.

“For decades [Turkey] was a model of how a Muslim-majority country with a secular government could cooperate with the West. Now Mr. Erdogan is operating in a more ambiguous space: becoming more authoritarian while balancing the U.S. and Europe against Iran and Russia,” writes The Wall Street Journal.

“U.S. policy should be based on the fact that while Turkey is not an enemy of the United States, it is also not a friend. Washington can work with Ankara where it remains possible, work around the Turks where it is necessary, and work against them where it has to,” writes CFR’s Steven A. Cook.