Erdoğan’s Reckless Gambit: It’s Payback Time –

Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin, photo by the Russian Presidential Press and Information Office via Wikimedia Commons

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 1,876, January 10, 2021

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: US CAATSA sanctions on Turkey’s defense industry are now official. The costs to Turkey of its S-400 deal with Russia have been enormous, both strategically and economically. Those costs will continue to rise exponentially and will push Turkey further into the Russian orbit.

Only three days after Turkey’s Islamist strongman Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sighed with relief at having side-stepped heavy European sanctions, he got slapped with heavy American ones. In this three-party game, Turkey is the loser, Russia is the winner, and the West is breaking even.

At a summit on December 10-11, the leaders of the EU agreed to impose light sanctions on an unspecified number of Turkish officials and entities involved in gas drilling in disputed Mediterranean waters. They deferred more punishing sanctions, such as trade tariffs or an arms embargo, until after they consult with the incoming Biden administration.

But on December 14, the US announced that it would be imposing sanctions on Turkey via the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) for its purchase of the Russian-made S-400 long-range air