Turkey is refusing to back a NATO defense plan for the Baltics and Poland until the alliance offers Ankara more political support for its fight against Kurdish YPG militia in northern Syria, four senior alliance sources said, according to Reuters.
Ankara has told its NATO envoy not to sign off on the plan and is taking a tough line in meetings and in private conversations, demanding the alliance recognize the YPG as terrorists in the formal wording, the sources said.
Turkey’s NATO delegation was not immediately available for comment. Turkey’s defense and foreign ministries did not respond to requests for comment.
The dispute, before NATO holds its 70th anniversary summit in London next week, is a sign of divisions between Ankara and Washington over Turkey’s offensive in northern Syria against the YPG militia, which it regards as terrorists with links to Kurdish militants on Turkish soil.
NATO envoys are seeking formal approval by all 29 member states for the military plan to defend Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in the event of a Russian attack.
Without Turkey’s approval, it could be harder for NATO to step up its defenses in the Baltics and Poland quickly.
“They (the Turks) are taking eastern Europeans hostage, blocking approval of this military planning until they get concessions,” one of the diplomatic sources told Reuters.
A second source called Turkey’s behavior “disruptive” as NATO tries to show it is united after U.S. President Donald Trump voiced scepticism about the alliance and French President Emmanuel Macron suggested it was experiencing “brain death”.
Asked about the issue, NATO’s spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said: “NATO has plans for defending all allies. NATO’s commitment to the safety and security of all allies is unwavering.”