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GlobalData: NATO-Turkey ties may find new grounds as cooperation deepens

Posted 10 June 2020 · Add Comment

Following the news regarding Turkey’s participation in Baltic Operations (BALTOPS 2020) exercise, Sourabh Banik, Aerospace & Defence Analyst at GlobalData.


"Turkey’s participation in the BALTOPS 2020 is an interesting development against the backdrop of a thriving connection between Ankara and Moscow, as the BALTOPS exercise intends to deter Russian activities in the Baltic Sea. Turkey’s relations with NATO has been under stress since the country was officially removed from the F-35 program amid the purchase of the S-400 missile defense system from Russia. Many even feared that Turkey-NATO ties would be severed completely. However, Turkey’s engagement with NATO in exercises such as BALTOPS indicates otherwise.


Turkey’s strategic interests are more intertwined with NATO as compared to Russia. In fact, Turkey’s success in the launch of a major counteroffensive against Russia-backed Syrian Government forces in Idlib in March 2020 is attributed to its leveraging of NATO assets such as AWAC aircrafts. To protect its skies, Turkey had also deployed Spanish Patriot air defense systems near its border with Syria. As Ankara’s involvement in the Syrian war escalates, it will continue to depend on the NATO assets to protect its interests in the region.


NATO’s dependence on Turkey is amplified by the fact that the country has the second largest military force among all the alliance members, and it hosts US’ nuclear weapons at Incirlik Air Base. In addition, Turkey’s strategic location between Asia and Europe gives ready access to Mediterranean and Black seas. NATO is unlikely to give up these advantages it enjoys with Turkey being one of its members.


Events such as BALTOPS will certainly help to improve relations between Turkey and their NATO allies. The 10-day event will further align Turkey’s operational procedures with its NATO counterparts and increase its coordination with other participants. This friendly overt event, involving several behind the scenes cooperation at NATO level, may show facets of normalising ties and reduction in the trust deficit that had developed in the past few years."


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