Why does Ankara want an arms deal with Moscow?
Turkey and Russia have reportedly concluded an arms deal worth billions. Ankara will buy a Russian S-400 anti-missile system; according to Erdoğan a first payment has already been made. Turkey had previously tried to buy a Chinese system, but this deal didn't work out. Journalists discuss what the arms deal means for Russia and for Turkey's Nato partners.
Putin victorious across the board
The arms deal is a victory for Russia on several counts, political scientist Valentin Naumescu writes on blog portal Contributors:
“The victory has a symbolic importance vis-à-vis an America that is apparently now loved only by Central Europe. It's also a political victory, because with it Russia has won an important regional ally. Lastly, it's a strategic victory. You don't have to be a military expert to see that these intelligent systems with strong radars make Nato vulnerable. Compatibility with Western systems is not guaranteed. And it's even possible that this 'complex equipment', as Russia calls it, could be used for cyber espionage as soon as it's installed on Nato territory.”
Turkey forced to seek new partners
With its policies and its ban on weapons deals the West is pushing Turkey farther and farther to the east, the pro-government Daily Sabah warns:
“Great partners of the U.S. and Nato, such as Germany, should understand that Turkey couldn't choose another way than seeking an alternative to threats, considering that no sovereign state on earth can act against its existence. That is why they should give up populist intimidation policies that they support with lame excuses and should stop further pushing Turkey to the 'east.' ... The only thing they need to do is to be more reasonable and to fulfil the minimum requirements of the relationship between equals. Thus, the S-400 deal could be the beginning, not the end, of Turkey's relations with NATO and the West.”
Turkey's risky change of track
For Habertürk Ankara is following a very clear line in its defence policy:
“China and Russia. What does that tell you? It's obvious what it means when you buy missile defence systems from two states that don't belong to Nato or the Western system. Turkey seems to assume that any threat to its airspace won't come from the East but from the West. ... It makes sense to interpret the purchase of the missile defence system in this way. The way things look, Turkey is very serious about changing track. Nevertheless it would do well to seek the advice of professional switchmen about the risks of such a move when high-speed trains are coming through.”
Revenge for the West's Kurdish policy
La Stampa sees the move as Ankara's revenge for the West's policy towards the Kurds:
“Erdoğan's decision seems to have less to do with technical military details than with politics. The failed coup of 15 July 2016 accelerated Turkey's change of sides. The regime has undermined democracy and civil rights. ... The EU accession negotiations have come to a halt. But above all Turkey wants revenge for the support that the West has given to the Kurds. In twelve days an independent Kurdistan will be born in Northern Iraq. And worse still: the PYD, which is a sister party of the PKK and continues to regard imprisoned Abdullah Öcalan as its leader, threatens to establish a Kurdish state in Syria.”