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Will Turkey's Purchase of Russian Missiles Rupture U.S. Ties?

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The impending delivery of Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems to Turkey threatens to rupture U.S.-Turkey relations.

In a new Washington Institute video, Beyer Family Fellow and Director of the Turkish Research Program Soner Cagaptay explains how an interconnected set of political and military fears and desires led the Turkish military to purchase these Russian weapons in spite of U.S. interests.

The purchase of Russian missiles is a turning point in Turkish foreign policy. According to Cagaptay, this purchase could bookend nearly two centuries of Turkish security policy, whereby the country has allied itself with Western powers as a counterbalance to Russia. But the move does not come without ramifications: U.S. sanctions and exposure to Russian interests in the region. 

The Institute's leading expert on U.S.-Turkey relations breaks down why the lure of technology transfer and Russian political leverage in Syria prompted Turkish President Erdogan to purchase the S-400 missile defense system. Cagaptay also forecasts the potential responses in the U.S. Congress, at the State Department, and in the White House — and how the U.S.-Turkish relationship can make it out of this crisis intact.

Watch the video on Washington Institute's website.


Soner Cagaptay  is the Beyer Family fellow and director of the Turkish Research Program at The Washington Institute. He has written extensively on U.S.-Turkish relations, Turkish domestic politics, and Turkish nationalism, publishing in scholarly journals and major international print media, including the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times, Foreign Affairs, and The Atlantic. 

His newest book, Erdogan's Empire: Turkey and the Politics of the Middle East, will be released in October 2019.

About the Washington Institute: The Washington Institute is an independent, nonpartisan research institution funded exclusively by U.S. citizens that seeks to advance a balanced and realistic understanding of American interests in the Middle East and to promote the policies that secure them. Drawing on the research of its fellows and the experience of its policy practitioners, the Institute promotes informed debate and scholarly research on U.S. policy in the region.

Media Contact : Erika Naegeli, 202-452-0650, email.