Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for the Kremlin, said earlier this week that Russia is planning to deliver additional S-400 surface-to-air missile systems to Turkey. It has been reported by Russian media TASS that “This kind of cooperation between Russia and Turkey should not be a threat for any country, especially for Greece, because the system is not offensive, it’s defensive.”
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In recent years, Turkey has become a stronger partner, and even an ally, for Russia. Turkey has gone as far as threatening its NATO allies. According to the report, “Russia plans to deliver another batch of S-400 missile systems to Turkey.” Peskov made the statement during an interview with ANT1, a popular television channel in Greece.
Turkey Already Has Some S-400 Systems
The original S-400 deals between Turkey and Russia were concluded while the Trump administration was still in office. There was a direct line between Turkey and White House lobbyists with much more access to high-level aspects of the Trump administration. The previous administration gave Turkey more power while supporting Turkey’s role in Syria, and some believe it gave Turkey the ability to back specific extremists.
This created a feeling in Ankara that Turkey was free to buy the S-400 systems from Russia, leading them to back Hamas and threaten other countries in the region. That was the result back then. Now, Turkey, Russia, China, and Iran are working closer than ever before on various files and projects. It is believed each of these deals and agreements are being made to challenge the United States and its lack of involvement in the region.
Nor Fear of US Sanctions
According to the report, Peskov went on to say, “We all know the United States likes to play this game of sanctions, although we know they have never reached their goals. They have never managed to make a single country change their point of view. But our policy is to be open for cooperation with various countries, especially our partners. This kind of cooperation between Russia and Turkey should not be a threat for any country, especially for Greece, because the system is not offensive, it is defensive. 100 percent defensive.”
This is currently happening while a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is being planned. There are also tensions between Russia and Ukraine. This week, there was a meeting between President Joe Biden and Putin. There has been a lot of talk in Moscow because Turkey has sold armed drones to Ukraine. Russia would prefer to have balanced relations with several countries, including Turkey, Greece, and Israel.
The TASS report notes that “Moscow and Ankara inked an S-400 deal during 2017 on delivering the Russian-made S-400 air defense system to Turkey, thereby making it the first NATO member to purchase this air defense system from Russia.” The Biden administration has been unable to pressure Ankara, and Turkey has all plans to keep the S-400 system. The response in Washington has been to exclude Turkey from a US program of developing the fifth generation of the F-35 fighter-bomber.
Both Russia and Turkey want to continue their military cooperation. However, it is still to be seen how the two countries will balance defense and military contacts, TurkStream and other gas pipelines, in addition to the relations between Turkey and Ukraine.
Several pro-Turkey voices in the United States who have backed the far-right AKP leadership in Ankara believe there will eventually be a clash between Turkey and Russia. Following this post-Cold War concept, Turkey is viewed as a Western ally against the Russians.
That being said, looking at the reality of the situation, Turkey has become far less democratic in the last 10 to 20 years. Ankara is known for imprisoning leaders of any opposition, along with the media, and has steadily grown closer to Russia. On top of this, Turkey’s been working with Iran, making them more of a threat in the Middle East.
Nothing shows that Turkey or its pro-government media have any interests in growing closer to the United States. On the contrary, Turkey no longer views ties or relations with the US as “favorable.” Instead, Turkey demonstrates they would rather be part of a group of authoritarian regimes increasingly opposed to the United States and democracies throughout the West.
What Does This Mean for the United States?
There obviously isn’t too much for the US to fear with a new missile system in Turkey, regardless of whether it is offensive or defensive. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for American allies in the region, such as Israel. For the Israelis, any kind of move that brings a country in the area closer to Russia is alarming.
There is a lesson to be learned for the US. Since President Biden has taken office, more and more countries are being open about their lack of fear, and even respect, for the US and the current administration. The Kremlin’s spokesperson made it clear what other parts of the world believe about US sanctions. They mean absolutely nothing.
When countries such as Turkey see it is more favorable to have agreements with Russia and Iran over the United States, this needs our attention. When other nations no longer see the US as a serious threat, they can’t consider us a serious world leader.
Jeffrey‘s a senior writer with ThinkCivics and a freelance journalist with The Jerusalem Post. He’s a published author, earned an associate’s degree in theology, and is pursuing a master’s degree in communications with a focus on journalism.