US NATO envoy: Russia trying to ‘flip’ Turkey to destabilize alliance

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French General Denis Mercier (L), NATO's Supreme Allied Commander for Transformation, talks with US Defense minister James Mattis (R) and US NATO ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison during a Defense Council meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels on June 8, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYS

US Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison said on Sunday that Russia appeared to be trying to “flip” Turkey, a key member of the alliance, in a bid to undermine and destabilize NATO, the Hürriyet Daily News reported.

“I do think Russia is trying to flip Turkey. They are 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,” she added while also voicing her doubts about Moscow’s possible success in their efforts with Turkey.

“They have been an ally for a long time,” she said. “We know Russia is trying to move into that, but they’re [Turkey] strong and they are a NATO strong member [sic],” Hutchison said.

Hutchison’s comments came days before US President Donald Trump travels to Brussels for the annual NATO summit. He is expected to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on July 16.

Turkey’s decision to purchase Russian S-400 anti-ballistic missile systems has strained its ties with NATO.

“It goes without saying that it will be a difficult issue,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg had said on Feb. 22.

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