The U.S. better rethink its sanctions on Turkey, said Melih Altinok. Washington took the unprecedented step of sanctioning a NATO ally last week, in retaliation for Ankara’s purchase of the S-400 air defense system from Russia. The U.S. claims that the system—which comes with radar installations and significant Russian involvement—will allow Russia to spy on NATO.
But Turkey only turned to Russia after the U.S. refused to sell us a complete Patriot air defense system, saying it would not transfer the technology that would allow Turkey to produce its own compatible surface-to-air missiles. Adding sanctions on top of that rejection will only push Turkey closer to Russia, which is offering to “boost military and commercial cooperation.” Indeed, Turkey is already doing a great deal of foreign trade with Russia, and we’ll likely start cooperating with Pakistan and China on defense as well. It’s about time. Why should we source weapons only from the West, when the West has undermined us by arming Kurdish separatist fighters in Syria and Iraq and by sponsoring “coup attempts” against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan? Turkey is no vassal state of the U.S. If Washington wants to avoid losing Ankara entirely to the Eurasian camp, it should “shelve the sanctions.”