The long-awaited meeting today between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US President Joe Biden went pretty much as expected, with none of the big issues poisoning ties between the NATO allies getting resolved. The two leaders both said the 90-minute-long encounter on the margins of the NATO summit in Brussels had gone “very well” — Erdogan went as far as to claim that “We think that there are no issues within US-Turkey ties [that are unsolvable] and that areas of cooperation for us are greater than [our] problems.” However, Erdogan’s comments during a subsequent news conference offered little in the way of proof.
The deepest sore is Turkey’s acquisition of Russian S-400 missiles, for which Turkey has already paid a hefty price. It’s under an effective arms embargo from the United States and has been kicked off the F-35 consortium that produces the fifth-generation fighter jets. Erdogan repeated the line that Turkey had resorted to acquiring the Russian kit because Washington had refused to sell it Patriot missiles. In truth, a deal for the Patriots failed over technology transfer issues. Russia sold Turkey its “export” version of the missile batteries, so what’s the difference, critics ask.