Earlier this year, Turkish President Erdogan accepted the delivery of Russian S-400 missiles as his relationship with Vladimir Putin began to grow increasingly friendly. This sparked fear from NATO, of which Turkey is a member, because it provided Moscow with the opportunity to gather intelligence on weapons used by European and North American nations, including the UK and US. Russian S-400 missiles would now have the opportunity to examine the F-35 fighter jet that forms a crucial part of NATO’s arsenal.
Jim Townsend worked in the Barack Obama administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for European and NATO Policy, and is now a senior fellow in the CNAS (Center for a New American Security) Transatlantic Security Programme.
He says that Moscow and Ankara have colluded to serve each others’ interests.
Mr Townsend told Express.co.uk: “The threat that Turkey poses is an internal one, where the alliance has to figure out ‘what do you do with an ally who is beginning to act not in the best interest of the alliance?’
“The S-400 example is something were Erdogan feels his interests are better suited to working with Putin, and getting the S-400 to work with Moscow.
“The Turks and the Russians are using each other for their own ends, that’s what we are seeing happen here.”
Mr Townsend believes Erdogan tried to attain weapons from both NATO and Russia simultaneously, despite the two being rivals since most of Eastern Europe was introduced to the organisation in the 1990’s and early 2000’s.
“Erdogan also underestimated the US, he felt he could manipulate Trump, who is a master manipulator himself, to then get both the S-400 and the F-35’s.”
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Whilst Erdogan has left many of his allies from the West furious, Mr Townsend doesn’t see Turkey’s place in NATO as under threat, but does predict harsh treatment from within the organisation.
“I don’t think Turkey will be expelled from NATO. It is a matter of sanctioning Turkey within NATO, saying based on what you have done, we are not going to invite you to NATO exercises, we are not going to give you positions on the international staff, there are things that we can do to isolate Turkey within the alliance.”