Turkish Foreign Minister: Turkish-Russian ties no alternative to the EU

(Photo Tarik Haiga)

Despite sanctions by the United States, Russia and Turkey are determined to finalize the S-400 missile system deal. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow and Ankara will not be deterred by the sanctions.

Earlier this month, the United States imposed sanctions against Turkey for buying Russia’s S-400 air defence system. Turkey had a long-standing wish to acquire an advanced air defence system, but was denied to acquire the US Patriot air defence system. Despite warnings from the US to not acquire the Russian alternative, the Turkish government ignored these warnings and went ahead with the deal. This action led to the controversial sanctions imposed by the US; controversial because both Turkey and the US are members of NATO.

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov was pleased with the Turkish-Russian deal and criticized the US actions: ‘Relations between Russia and Turkey are self-sustainable and self-sufficient, they don’t depend on someone’s aggressive and hostile actions and whims’. Last Tuesday Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu emphasized that ‘Turkey’s relations with Russia are not an alternative to its ties with NATO and the European Union’.

Whether NATO and the European Union agree with Cavusoglu remains to be seen: not only the US recently sanctioned Turkey, the EU also took punitive steps after Turkey’s dispute with members Greece and Cyprus over Mediterranean offshore rights. While the EU’s sanctions remained relatively mild after the last summit, stricter sanctions were already on the table. It is not inconceivable that these stricter sanctions will be imposed in the near future.