Russian officials have discussed the possibility of using Turkey’s Incirlik air base as a hub for carrying out air strikes in Syria.
According to Russian deputy Igor Morozov, the use of the airbase, which is currently used by NATO and plays the role of a home for about 50 US nuclear warheads, could be offered to Russia by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
However, this step, aimed at the use of the base in the east of Turkey, would be highly controversial as Russia and NATO have been at odds over a number of issues, including Syria and Ukraine.
“Turkey can provide the Incirlik base to the Russian Aerospace Forces for its use in counterterrorism operations [in Syria]. This can become a logical continuation of Turkish President Erdogan’s step toward Russia,” Morozov told the RIA Novosti news agency.
A member of the Council of the Federation Committee on Defense and Security, Senator Viktor Ozerov, also noted that the use of the airbase could be a signal of strengthening relations between the two countries.
“It is not guaranteed that Russia needs Incirlik, but such a decision can be regarded as Turkey’s real readiness to cooperate with Russia in the fight against terrorism in Syria, and not just pay lip service,” Sputnik quoted his words.
Western analysts have already started to express concern about the security of the US warheads, located in Turkey, in connection with the failed coup of 15 July. And Turkey’s realignment toward Russia could increase NATO’s fears about its position in Turkey.
On august 17, editor of the Yeni Safak newspaper, Ibrahim Karagul, said that the state should “take control” of the nuclear weapons in Incirlik.
“The nukes in Incirlik must be handed over to Turkey,” he wrote. “Or else, Turkey should take control of them.”
Amind the ongoing military and political developments over, some people believe it is possible that we will see the next expansion of Russia’s military presence in the Middle East in the near future.