Turkey has begun to take over the S-400 anti-aircraft missile system from Russia, despite the US warning of possible sanctions. The US and NATO currently have no choice but to rethink whether or not Turkey still belongs to the Alliance.
This should at least mean the end of Turkey's participation in the F-35 hunting program. US officials say Russian technicians, who will help Turkey operate the high-performance S-400, will be able to jeopardize the integrity of NATO's joint defense systems. The S-400 was more or less designed to launch NATO aircraft.
It is true that disintegration of Turkey and NATO is a goal of Vladimir Putin in promoting the S-400 sale. The US could lose access to the Incirlik Air Force Base, and Turkey could assemble the Kurdish forces in Syria, which helped the US defeat the Islamic State's caliphate. Although Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants to rule forever, he will eventually be gone and his successor may reconsider his hostility towards the West. This is the case to prevent the expulsion of NATO.
But Mr. Erdogan has some consequences to bear, or the obligations of an alliance are dwindling. President Trump made a conciliatory statement on the decision of the S-400 at the recent G-20 summit, and perhaps the Turk interpreted this as a sign that he would receive a sanction passport. If Mr. Trump blinks in response, the Congress will have to expose Mr. Erdogan to the costs of betraying an ally Coastguard. Picture: Zuma Press
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Published in the printed edition of 15 July 2019.