Washington fears Ankara may be slipping toward the ‘Eurasian option’ - analyst

Washington is concerned that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s consideration of purchasing Russian jets after acquiring S-400 missile systems is a sign that Turkey aiming to strengthen ties with Russia and Iran while remaining a member of the NATO, analyst Stephen Flanagan told Bloomberg on Friday.

Erdoğan's friendly meeting with Putin at an air show near Moscow on Tuesday fuelled speculation that Moscow could become Turkey's supplier for new fighters. The Turkish president is shopping for new options as Washington suspended Turkey’s participation to the programme to build F-35 stealth fighter jets after Turkey started receiving shipments of Russian-made S-400 missile systems in July.

“The fear in Washington is that this could be a slippery slope from being a difficult ally toward the ‘Eurasian option’ for Turkey in which they’d not formally leave NATO but deepen their ties with Russia and Iran,” Bloomberg quoted Stephen Flanagan, a former special assistant to Presidents George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, who now is a senior political scientist at the Rand Corporation, as saying.

Meanwhile, there is bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress to impose further sanctions on Turkey under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA. But U.S. President Donald Trump so far is holding off sanctions against Turkey, which could severely harm Turkey’s ailing economy. 

Andrei Kortunov, director general of the Russian International Affairs Council, a Kremlin-founded think tank, told Bloomberg that Russian-Turkish ties, including those in the defence sphere, could strengthen, if the United States imposed additional sanctions on Turkey. A Turkish tilt away from the West “backs up Russia’s view of the changing world order,” he told Bloomberg.