Trump NATO envoy: Russia is trying to ‘flip’ Turkey
U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison said Sunday that Russia appeared to be trying to “flip” Turkey, a key member of the alliance, in a bid to undermine and destabilize NATO.
“I do think Russia is trying to flip Turkey. They’re trying to flip many of our allies,” Hutchison said on “Fox News Sunday.” “They want to destabilize the strongest defense alliance in the history of the world, and that is NATO.”
But Hutchison cast doubt on whether Moscow would succeed in its effort to weaken Turkey’s commitments to NATO.
“They have been helping us for a long time,” she said. “We know Russia is trying to move into that, but we know that they’re strong.”
Turkey has been a long-standing ally of the U.S., particularly in counterterrorism cooperation. But Ankara has edged closer to Moscow recently, stoking fears in the West that Russia is trying to weaken Turkey’s NATO commitments.
In December, Ankara and Moscow finalized an agreement for Turkey to purchase a Russian S-400 missile defense system. Russia is also building Turkey’s first nuclear power plant, as well as the “TurkStream” pipeline, which will transport natural gas from Russia to Turkey.
Tensions ratcheted up between the U.S. and Turkey earlier this year after Ankara launched a military incursion in Northern Syria to edge out U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters, threatening a confrontation between American and Turkish forces.
Hutchison’s comments on Sunday came days before President Trump is set to travel to Brussels for the annual NATO summit. He is expected to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on July 16.