ANKARA – Seeing Greece building an international alliance and further wooing the United States, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is moving to win back American support that was pulled when his country bought Russian-made S-400 missile systems.
Those could be used against Greece in a conflict and undermines the security of NATO, to which all three countries belong and which has refused to intervene over repeated violations of Greek airspace and waters by Turkish fighter jets and warships.
Greece and Turkey are also locked in hot disputes over rights to the seas and Erdogan said he will again send an energy research vessel and warships to look for oil and gas off Greek islands, including Kastellorizo and Crete.
And while offering diplomacy, the volatile Turkish leader has then often turned back toward belligerence and demands and now claims no energy exploration can happen in the Aegean or East Mediterranean without his permission.
With the US in a dither over worries Russia will invade Ukraine, Erdogan has reiterated the importance of Turkish bases that could be used in a response and Turkey is selling drones to Ukraine and offering more equipment.
That, said Kathimerini in an assessment by Greek diplomats not named, is part of a campaign to make Turkey indispensable to the US even as American military influence is growing in Greece.
Erdogan’s effort has succeeded in getting US President Joe Biden, an alleged Hellenophile, to pull American support for the EastMed pipeline project involving Greece, Cyprus and Israel.
Erdogan opposed the agreement and the US has thrown its weight behind Turkey instead, which wants to raise the stakes in the Aegean and East Mediterreanean and gain an energy hegemony there.
The US barred Turkey from buying American made F-35 fighter jets after Erdogan went ahead and authorized purchase of the Russian missile defenses but he still wants to get the advanced fighters that would give Turkish pilots an advantage as they engage in mock dogfights with Greek pilots.