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Between a Rock and a Hard Place: How to Make Sense of Turkey’s S-400 Choice?*

With the wrap-up of the S-400 deal with Russia in December 2017, critics argue that Turkey is caught between a rock and a hard place due to the adamant opposition of its NATO allies, the United States in particular, which has threatened Ankara with imposing severe sanctions. Would this be the correct representation of the situation at hand? Does it make any sense for Turkey to engage Russia, an archrival nation, to enhance the security of the country? Is the S-400 deal worth the risk of alienating the allied nations whose projected sanctions may have wide-ranging political, economic and military repercussions? With these questions in mind, this paper will try to shed light on the specifics of the S-400 deal that make one think that it may indeed make sense for Turkey to bear the brunt of engaging Russia. In the same vein, the paper will assess the impact of the S-400 deal on Turkey’s defense industries. The paper will also present the author’s conception of the current “international political non-order” as an underlying factor behind the deal. Finally, the paper will suggest that the S-400 deal must be approached from a wider perspective so as to grasp the extent of the service it has done in bolstering Turkey’s military-industrial complex.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place How to Make
 

 

 

 

Introduction

 

Two main questions raised by most defense analysts, especially in Western countries and also at home with respect to Turkey’s decision to buy the S-400 air defense system from Russia are: “Does it make sense?” and “Is it worth the risk?” These questions are simple, yet carry massive implications regarding the criticism to which Turkey has been subject over the last several years, and thus the challenges that lie ahead in connection with its decision.

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