At next week’s NATO summit, the leaders of European nations must step up to preserve NATO’s unity at a time when the United States and Turkey – the countries with the two largest armies in the Atlantic Alliance – appear to be coordinating their actions to divide NATO and benefit Russia.
Regarding the US, the Europeans cannot do much other than hope that the Trump era will be brief and that relations between the United States and European Union will be restored to their former state. As far as Turkey is concerned, the Europeans must choose between allowing Ankara to behave like a superpower which sets the rules that they then follow, or using the full force of their political and economic power to place limits on Turkey.
Washington’s actions, and the confusion as to its policy toward Ankara, benefit Moscow directly. Pulling American forces out of Syria left the field open for the Turks to invade and for the Russians to increase their influence in the region.
Turkey’s purchase of S-400 missiles, the first by a NATO member, was a direct hit for the Russian arms industry. Turkey has now tested the S-400s, showing that it does not fear US threats of sanctions.
Now, Turkey is blocking NATO’s adoption of plans to defend Poland and the Baltic States in the event of an attack by Russia. Ankara demands that, in exchange, NATO declare the Kurds of Syria “terrorists” – the Kurdish allies that the Americans abandoned so that Turkey could invade northern Syria, setting in motion this chain of events.
The situation reflects the lack of coordination that prompted French President Emmanuel Macron to declare that NATO was “brain dead,” with a member-state acting aggressively on its own in an area where the Atlantic Alliance’s interests are at stake.
Either through carelessness or in accordance with an incomprehensible plan, the United States has contributed toward strengthening Russia and weakening NATO.
Turkish aggression toward Greece and Cyprus may not contribute directly to Russia’s growing influence, but, as long as NATO and the EU fail to rein in Ankara, they help strengthen Russia and Turkey, undermining the collective structures that secured their stability and prosperity for many decades.