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Over half of Turkish citizens prefer Russia to US as strategic partner: Survey

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
In this file picture, Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan shake hands during a meeting at the Presidential Complex in Ankara, Turkey. (Photo by Reuters)

A recent opinion poll shows more than half of the Turkish citizens believe that their country should expand relations and forge a strong partnership with Russia rather than the United States.

The survey, conducted by Istanbul-based research company Areda Survey between June 1 and 3 with the participation of 2,100 people, disclosed that 78.9 percent of the respondents prefer Moscow as Ankara’s main partner in foreign policy and international relations in comparison with Washington.

According to the poll, while only 18.3 percent of the respondents described the US as a “strategic partner,” 35.5% of those interviewed said Washington is “unreliable.”

On the other hand, 58.2% of participants viewed Russia as a “strategic partner.”

When asked whether they think Turkey should cooperate with Russia while conducting its foreign policy or not64.1 percent of the respondents answered “yes."

In the survey, 73.2% of the participants also answered “no” to the questionDo you think Turkey should cooperate with the US while conducting its foreign policy?”

Also, 78.9% of the respondents chose Russia when asked which country they like Turkey to develop more relations with. 

Some 50.2% of the participants in the research were men, and 49.8% were women.

The United States removed Ankara from the F-35 fighter jet program on July 15, 2020.

On December 14 last year, the United States imposed sanctions on Turkey over its acquisition of advanced Russian S-400 missile defense systems, with Ankara condemning the move as a “grave mistake” that would inevitably harm mutual relations and threatened retaliation.

The US sanctions were imposed on Turkey’s top defense procurement and development body Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB), its chairman Ismail Demir and three other Turkish defense officials, namely Mustafa Alper Deniz, Serhat Gencoglu and Faruk Yigit.

Back in April 2018, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin said in Ankara that they had agreed to expedite the delivery of the S-400. At the time, it was said that the delivery could be made between late 2019 and early 2020.

A number of NATO member states have criticized Turkey, arguing that the S-400 missile batteries are not compatible with those of the military alliance.

The S-400 is an advanced Russian missile defense system designed to detect, track, and destroy planes, drones, or missiles as far as 402 kilometers away. It had previously been sold only to China and India.

Ankara is striving to boost its air defense, particularly after Washington decided in 2015 to withdraw its Patriot surface-to-air missile system from Turkish border with Syria, a move that weakened Turkey’s air defense.

Before gravitating towards Russia, the Turkish military reportedly walked out of a $3.4-billion contract for a similar Chinese system. The withdrawal took place under pressure from Washington.

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