In the year 2015, it was believed that there could be a military conflict between Russia and Turkey and there could be a sharp increase in the already existing tension between these countries. The reason for this was Russia and Turkey’s rivalry over Syria. At the same time, a Russian fighter aircraft was killed on the Syrian border by Turkey, due to this incident, the already increased bitterness between Turkey and Russia was expected to increase further. But Russia did not respond to the incident and it continued to strive to maintain the Assad government of Syria and to strengthen its position in the Central Asia region. Russia’s plan was to get something more than to attack Turkey. Russia’s plan also supported the geo-strategic situation of the region and the tensions present in the NATO alliance, especially the deterioration of US-Turkish relations. Currently Turkey is procuring the state-of-the-art missile defense system S-400, bypassing various challenges. This defense deal is extremely important from the point of view of Russia-NATO-Turkey relations, as well as showing the changing policy of Turkey and its inclination towards Russia.
Importance of turkey
The Ottoman Empire was one of the important powers of the world in medieval Europe and Asia. The empire was divided after the First World War and Turkey emerged as the successor of this empire. After the Second World War, Turkey joined the American bloc when the world split into two poles. Also Turkey joined NATO in 1952. Turkey remained important to NATO throughout the Cold War. Turkey’s location is the most important from a geo-strategic point of view which was used by NATO countries against Soviet Russia in the Cold War. Turkey is located in the middle of Southern Europe, Central Asia and West Asia.
S-400 agreement (Russia-Turkey)
Turkey’s missile defense system agreement with Russia has been concluded despite various challenges. The S-400 is a defense system based on advanced technology, this system is about 400 km. The airfield is capable of defending against any air threat or attack. The accuracy of this system is the main center of attraction for various countries, keeping this in mind, India and China have already tied up with Russia to buy this defense system.
The US and other NATO allies have strongly objected to the deal. It is worth noting that NATO was founded against Soviet Russia and Turkey is still a member of NATO, so any NATO member’s air defense system may depend on Russia, posing serious threats to NATO. . Along with this there are some technical problems. Turkey has ordered the purchase of America’s latest aircraft F-35 based on stealth technology (capable of evading enemy radar). Because of this, the S-400 defense system can pose a threat to the technology of American aircraft.
The US has already suspended the training program of Turkish pilots to pressure Turkey. At the same time, the US may also consider banning Turkey. Despite this, Turkey remains in agreement.
Rift in US-Turkish relations
The relations between America and Turkey have been historically friendly. Turkey has been involved in NATO since the 50s, while the US is the leader of NATO. In addition, the US airbase also exists in Turkey. The US-Turkey are also working on several defense-related projects simultaneously. Despite this, there has been a breach in relations between America and Turkey. It begins with the Iraq war of 2003. In the year 2003, on terrorism and other issues, the US and its allies conducted military operations against the Saddam Hussein government of Iraq. The US wanted to use Turkey’s territory to send troops to Iraq, but Turkey refused. When the rebels rebelled against the Assad government of Syria during the Arab Spring, Turkey urged the US to intervene on behalf of the rebels and overthrow the Assad government. This request was rejected by the then Obama administration.
In addition, there are some other reasons for the breach in relations between Turkey and America, such as the unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the Erdogan government in 2016. For this, the government of Erdogan considers Turkish religious leader Fatullah Gulen (Fethullah Gulen) responsible in the US and Turkey has been demanding the extradition of Gulen, which has been rejected by the US.
Turkey wanted to buy the Patriot Missile Defense System from the US, but after the US refusal, Turkey has considered buying the S-400 missile system.
Role of Syria crisis
The pro-democracy movement started in Central Asia in 2010, it is known as the Arab Spring. This movement started with Tunisia and gradually spread to various countries like Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco etc. Taking advantage of this situation, Turkey wanted to increase its influence in the Arab region, as well as the idea of Turkey was to establish Muslim political parties in these countries.
Be aware that Turkey shares a border with Syria, taking advantage of this, Turkey continued to provide its land for Syrian rebels to enter Syria. Gradually, the influence of the Islamic State (IS) in Syria also increased and its situation became complicated. Many factions in Syria were at loggerheads, with Kurdish fighters also playing an important role. The rebels wanted to overthrow the Assad government, the Kurds were fighting for a separate Kurdistan for themselves.
But the Kurds who are spread over Turkey, Syria and Iraq want to build Kurdistan by combining the Kurdish regions of these countries. Turkey has been a strong opponent of this idea of the Kurds because it could pose a crisis in Turkey’s integrity. But when the Kurdish terrorist organizations got entangled in war with IS, the US supported the Kurds to weaken the IS, which shocked Turkey’s interests. At the same time, when the Syrian crisis became serious, it also started posing a threat to Turkey and as a result there were series of terrorist attacks in Turkey in 2016. Thus Turkey lost the stake of Syria. Turkey did not receive direct US support in Syria, which has led to the strengthening of the Kurds’ position. In Turkey, Kurdish is the biggest challenge for Turkey, not the Assad government.
Status of turkey
The last decade has been a volatile geopolitical zone for Turkey. America’s policies and Erdogan’s ambitions have affected Turkey negatively. Turkey’s economic situation is deteriorating and the problem of the Kurds still remains serious. Turkey’s stance has softened towards the Assad government and is also focusing on improving relations with Russia and Iran. This situation is indicative of Turkey’s changing foreign policy.
Role of russia
Turkey has been presenting a geopolitical challenge to Russia since the Cold War, Turkey has great importance for Russia’s unhindered access to the Mediterranean. Turkey influences the Basphorus Strait connecting the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. Russia needs Turkey to fulfill its long-term interests in North Africa and Central Asia. Russia did not put much emphasis on the 2015 event (Turkey killing Russian aircraft) keeping long-term interests in mind. At the same time, Russia took a soft attitude towards Turkey in Syria on many fronts. The background set by Russia in the current situation is resulting in Turkey’s inclination towards Russia.
The defense deal concluded between Russia and Turkey is not indicative of any partnership, there is still a direct confrontation between Russia and Turkey on many issues. Although Turkey’s attitude towards Syria has softened, Turkey is still exploring its interests in Syria. Turkey’s security organizations have had a historic association with the US. At the same time, there is a dispute between Russia and Turkey on countries like Libya, Israel etc. In such a situation, this agreement with Russia seems like a threat to Turkey that Turkey will not compromise for its defense interests. Turkey is also ready to renounce NATO membership for this. At the same time, Turkey is also trying to send a message to the US to change its sharp policies and take care of the interests of its allies. Despite all these things, the current situation is pointing to the changing geopolitics in which Russia has tried to outdo America to some extent in this region.
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