Lira Pares Gains As Turkey Mulls Using Russian Missile System In Med Gas Fight
After rallying dramatically this morning (with some suggesting Erdogan’s call with Trump may suggest he is pullinghthe S-400 deal), the Turkish Lira has given back some gains after a Bloomberg headline reports that Turkey is considering deploying a Russian missile-defense system along the country’s southern coast, near where its warships are accompanying vessels exploring for energy.
Today’s reported threat, according to four people with knowledge of the deliberations, comes just a few days after Turkey’s largest-ever Navy drill rattled sabres across the Med.
Bloomberg reports that the long-range S-400 battery, which might be delivered in weeks, would dramatically enhance Turkey’s military capabilities in the Eastern Mediterranean, where it’s embroiled in a fight with EU member Cyprus over offshore gas exploration, the people said on condition of anonymity as the issue is sensitive.
“Turkey regards the S-400s as a deterrent to defend its energy interests in the East Med where brewing tensions may threaten to bring Turkey’s relations with the U.S. to a breaking point,” said Mehmet Seyfettin Erol, head of Ankara-based research institute ANKASAM.
“It feels increasingly threatened in the Mediterranean by U.S. and Israeli support for Cyprus.”
The European Union has expressed its “grave concern” about the upcoming drilling to be conducted by Turkey in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus.
Turkey does not recognize the government in Nicosia or its agreements regarding EEZ. Ankara thinks that the right to extract gas should also be exercised by the Turkish Cypriots and also by Turkey in the case of Blocks 4, 5, 6, and 7, through which – according to Ankara – passes the Turkish maritime border (the map below).
EU’s High Representative and Vice President Federica Mogherini recently said that the European Council had “strongly condemned Turkey’s continuous illegal actions in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.”
Mogherini pledged to “respond appropriately and in full solidarity with Cyprus.”
“The possibility of the S-400s being deployed at Akkuyu is quite strong,” said Abdullah Agar, a Turkish security analyst. “It is a solution that could provide security to the nuclear plant in line with Turkey’s cooperation with Russia and give it an edge in a stiff energy competition in the East Med.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Donald Trump are expected to discuss the missiles on the sidelines of a G-20 summit in Japan next month.