ANKARA – The purchase by Turkey of the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft systems could not lead to the expulsion of Ankara from NATO, Turkish experts say.
“I do not think the S-400 agreement is a reason for Turkey’s exclusion from NATO,” said Huseyin Alptekin, a researcher on the strategic program of the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA) on the sidelines of the club’s Valdai of International Discussions.
At the same time, Enes Bayrakli, director of SETA’s European Studies Program, pointed out that no one, neither in NATO nor in Turkey, is serious about speculation about a possible withdrawal of Ankara from the alliance over the purchase of the S-400s.
“Turkey’s contribution to NATO is irreplaceable, NATO would be completely different if Turkey left the organization. They would not replace Turkey with anyone, for them the damage would be enormous,” he said.
Hasan Basri Yalcin, director of SETA’s strategic research program, pointed out that Turkey is “a reliable security provider for NATO,” but Ankara does not want to become “a NATO satellite. For Turkey it is unacceptable,” he added.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Grushko said the United States, in demanding that Turkey renounce Russia’s S-400 anti-aircraft systems, is pursuing “obvious” economic interest.
“The pressure that the United States exerts on Turkey is not surprising … They are pursuing an obvious economic interest,” Grushko told a news conference.
Grushko noted that the US is very interested in Turkey and other allies buying exclusively US arms, and that is why they demand that they increase their military budgets by 2%.
“If this American demand is met,” the diplomat explained, “NATO’s budget would reach the astronomical value of $400 billion, of which $100 billion, would have to be used for the purchase of American weapons.”
US Vice President Mike Pompeo said on 3 April that Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 anti-aircraft systems is a major concern in the US and poses a threat to NATO unity. In addition, he urged Turkey to make a choice: to remain an important alliance partner or compromise its security by making “reckless” decisions and “undermining” NATO.