IThis seemed to be the end of the road for relations between Turkey and the United States, NATO allies. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has described relations between Washington and Ankara as the worst on record in his 18 years as head of Turkey. “The current trajectory does not bode well,” he said at the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York last month, after failing to secure a meeting with Biden. “The point we have reached in our relationship with the United States is not good.”
Within days, he was in the Russian resort of Sochi, meeting for nearly three hours with President Vladimir Putin to discuss trade, nuclear energy deals, space exploration and arms sales, including including further Turkish purchases of Russian-made S-400 defense systems that angered Washington and prompted sanctions. Events suggested that Turkey was sinking deeper and deeper into Russia’s orbit.
But not so fast. For, even as Erdogan moved closer to Putin, Turkey was putting the finishing touches on a groundbreaking deal with Kiev to build its coveted Bayraktar TB2 attack drone on Ukrainian soil for use by Ukrainian forces against separatist forces. supported by Russia. It was a provocation by the Kremlin, even the West hadn’t dared, and it came after Ankara agreed to sell 24 drones – which proved devastatingly effective against Russian-backed forces. in Syria, Libya and the Caucasus – to Poland, despite the objections of the EU and NATO.