Western diplomats regard the decision by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to restore relations with Moscow last month as part of a carefully-coordinated attempt by Ankara to build a new power base in the region.
For decades Turkey, a key NATO member, has said that it wants to forge closer ties with the West, to the extent that Turkish diplomats insist that Ankara is still serious about joining the European Union.
But the increasingly hard-line Islamist approach taken by Mr Erdogan in the wake of the failed military coup, which has seen tens of thousands of judges, academics and journalists forced from their jobs, has caused the Turkish government to realise the prospects of maintaining relations with its Western allies are remote so long as it continues with the current crack-down.
This had led Mr Erdogan to embark on a campaign to reach out to countries such as Russia, which he regards as a viable alternative to the U.S. in protecting Turkey’s interests in the region.
The Turkish leader’s disillusionment with U.S. President Barack Obama predates the tensions caused by the military coup and Turkey’s demand that Washington extradites the exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of orchestrating the failed military coup.
The fall-out between Mr Erdogan and Mr Obama dates back to the American president’s failure to follow up on his threat to launch military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad if he used chemical weapons against his own people in Syria’s brutal civil war.