Turkey’s Defense Minister has announced that Turkey is close to buying the advanced S-400 air missile defense system from Russia. As Reuters reports:
Turkey’s talks with Russia about the purchase of the S-400 air missile defense system have reached a “final stage”, although this does not mean a deal will be signed immediately, Defense Minister Fikri Isik said on Friday.
Isik also told a news conference that NATO countries have not presented a “financially effective” offer on an alternative defense system. NATO member Turkey in 2015 canceled a $3.4 billion tender for a long-range missile defense system that had been provisionally awarded to China.
Turkey then said it would consider developing a missile system locally, but that stance later shifted. [….]
He said Turkey would not be able to integrate the S-400 into the NATO system.
Turkey’s drive to acquire an advanced air missile defense system has dragged on for years, but the announcement that they’re close to finalizing what would likely be a multi-billion dollar deal comes at a critical time in Turkey’s relationship with NATO and the West. A large-scale arms deal with the very country that has been most aggressively confronting the Western-led international status quo in recent years would be yet another symbol of a Turkey that is less and less oriented towards NATO and the EU—and the values those bodies represent—and towards what seems likely to be a more Ottomanist and Islamist government under the leadership of a newly empowered Erdogan.
Much remains to be seen about how Erdogan intends to wield his new powers on the world stage, but a move that distances Turkey from NATO while bringing it militarily closer to Russia may be a sign of things to come.