Frustration with the United States’ failure to make Turkey an attractive offer for Patriot missiles has been critical in Turkey’s decision to buy the S-400 long-range missile system from Russia. Additionally, we know that Turkey has long aspired to build strategic autonomy in order not to be reliant on one party for defense procurements. The progression of relations with Russia, especially in connection with the Syrian war, has provided Turkey with an alternative to meet its air defense system needs.

Furthermore, Turkey’s current ruling elite have made the assessment that they do not need to choose between NATO and Russia, therefore building strategic ties with Russia need not be at the expense of Turkey’s position in NATO. Hence, the S-400 purchase should not be seen as a move related to geopolitical realignment in the MENA region, but rather as a move to broaden Turkey’s alliances. That being said, I do not agree with this approach as building strategic ties with Russia cannot be not at the expense of Turkey’s position within NATO.

On the one hand, this move will contribute positively to Turkey’s relations with Russia. On the other hand, Turkey will also build dependence on Russia for the maintenance of the systems, training of officers and technical personnel, etc. Besides, if Turkey’s access to NATO defense projects is severely limited (as is the case with removal from the F-35 program), Turkey may become even more dependent on the Russian defense industry. There is a Turkish idiom which translates as being caught up in the hail while trying to escape the rain and this is where Turkey finds itself. It will become increasingly dependent on Russia while trying to decrease its dependence on the United States. It is no secret that Turkey is going through a turbulent time with the United States, despite them being decades-old NATO allies, and both sides seem sure to continue to seek opportunities to mend these damaged ties.

In this respect President Trump’s stance on the S-400s is important as he has publicly expressed his sympathy for Turkey’s position, stating that he does not want to subject Turkey to the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). In contrast, US Congress is strongly in favor of sanctioning Turkey.

Bearing all the problematic issues between the two sides in mind, I believe that because the United States and Turkey still share strategic interests, a new version of the relationship between the two sides is necessary. Therefore, in my opinion, US-Turkish cooperation will be built with a new strategic framework that addresses the mutual suspicions and energizes new electorates at some point. In addition, Turkey’s formal position in NATO is not officially in question, but its commitment to the alliance is being quietly queried in international circles. While neither NATO nor its allies can be expected to have any desire to lose Turkey, any lack of trust shown towards it may lead to its exclusion from other programs such as the F-35 program and even certain joint exercises.