Turkey is considering putting a Russian S-400 long-range missile defense system on its southern coast in the East Mediterranean, near where it has sent energy research vessels and a warship off Cyprus, and an area near Greek islands.
Citing confidential sources, the financial news agency Bloomberg reported the deployment could happen within the next few weeks, likely to further stoke up tension already so high that Turkey’s Defense Minister said he hopes it doesn’t led to war that could involve Cyprus and Greece.
The United States said it would sanction Turkey if it goes ahead with buying the missile defense system that could compromise NATO. Turkey and Greece are both members but the defense alliance said it wants no part of the feud between the countries over Turkey continually violating Greek airspace and waters with fighter jets and warships.
The US and NATO fear the Russian system could access sensitive military information and there was no explanation why the defense alliance hasn’t threatened sanctions if Turkey buys the system from Russia, an ideological enemy.
The US said it would not allow Turkey to buy American-made F-35 fighter jets if the Russian missile defense system is also purchased and supporters of Cyprus in the US Congress want the lifting of an embargo on Cyprus buying weapons, with Turkey having occupied the northern third of the island since an unlawful 1974 embargo.
Turkey issued a NAVTEX reserving waters north of Cyprus for drilling in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) where the legitimate government has licensed foreign companies, including US’ ExxonMobil to hunt for oil and gas.
The US told Turkeynot to drill in Cyprus’ EEZ, saying it “risks raising tensions in the region,” but has done nothing about it so far with the US have a military presence on a key Turkish base as well.
Turkey ignored the warnings, which have also come from the European Union and said it will go ahead and do whatever it wants.
“Turkey will continue its activities in line with the international law and not allow faits accomplis in the East Mediterranean,” Turkey’s National Security Council said about the criticism of its activities.