NATO Bargaining Hard on Turkish Air Defense
NATO is warning Turkey against buying Russian or Chinese air defense systems, saying that if Ankara does so NATO will no longer share its information about incoming missiles, according to a report in the newspaper Hürriyet Daily News. Turkey, you may recall, has been shopping for a new air defense system, and is considering options from Russia, China, the U.S. and a European consortium. That list of potential partners has made the purchase a sort of bellwether for those concerned about Ankara's geopolitical orientation. But NATO, apparently, is making it known that it doesn't approve of the non-Western sellers:
One Western expert countered that “if, say, the Chinese win the competition, their systems will be in interaction, directly or indirectly, with NATO’s intelligence systems, and this may lead to the leak of critical NATO information to the Chinese, albeit inadvertently. So this is dangerous.”
“NATO won’t let that happen,” another Western official told the Hürriyet Daily News on Monday. “If the Chinese or the Russians win the Turkish contest, their systems will have to work separately. They won’t be linked to NATO information systems.”
This was the first time NATO has strongly urged Turkey against choosing the non-Western systems.
It has never seemed likely that Turkey would buy the Russian or Chinese systems, and it's been suggested that Turkey is just keeping them in the competition so as to draw concessions from either the Western companies or Western allies. So is NATO's warning a way of saying, "There's no way you're buying the Russian or Chinese system, so don't try to use that as bargaining leverage"?
Joshua Kucera is the Turkey/Caucasus editor at Eurasianet, and author of The Bug Pit.
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