Turkey and the Russian S-400 missile deal

Turkey and the Russian S-400 missile deal

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On the impact of the controversy between Washington and Ankara against the backdrop of the intention of Turkey to purchase Russian “S 400” missiles , the US State Department warned Turkey that the purchase of fighter jets type F-35 Joint Strike produced by Lockheed Martin is at risk unless it abandon the plan to buy Russian S-400 air defense missile system from Russia. In testimony before the Senate, assistant Secretary of State for European, European and Asian Affairs, Wes Mitchell, said that if Turkey bought the system, it would be subject to sanctions under a bill signed by President Donald Trump last summer. The Comprehensive Sanctions Bill seeks, which is known by (Counter America’s Adversaries through sanctions Act (CAATSA), to punish companies dealing with the Russian defense industry. “We are quite clear about this: the acquisition of the S-400 system will inevitably affect the opportunities for industrial military cooperation with the Unites States , including the F-35 ,” Mitchell told a session of a subcommittee of the Foreign Relations Committee on US relations with Europe “.

In this context, Washington is pressing to persuade Ankara to abandon the S-400 missiles. The United States is trying to convince Turkey to buy a Patriot missile defense system instead of the Russian S-400 system, which, if purchased by Ankara, could be a sticking point between the two countries, members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. A US law provides for sanctions on any country that signs contracts with Russian arms companies, and therefore Turkey is threatened in case it confirmed its purchase of the S-400 system. The United States is categorically opposed to the Turkish ownership of the system amid escalating tension in relations between the two countries against the background of Washington’s support for the Kurds of Syria which Ankara considers them a terrorist threat to its national security. The US State Department said on Monday it was negotiating about possible deal to sell Turkey a Patriot missile defense system manufactured by Raytheon Company as an alternative to the Russian-made S-400 system, which Turkey agreed to buy. The US Ambassador Tina Kidanao , Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Political and Military Affairs told reporters that a delegation of US government officials held meetings with allies in the hope of boosting US defense trade during its participation in the Farnborough Air Show.

She added the State Department was in talks with Turkey “and is trying to give the Turks an understanding of what we can do with respect to Patriot.” She did not say whether the two delegations had met at the air show. Turkey passed over the Patriot system twice in its selection process, first choosing a Chinese system and then turning to the Russian S-400 system in 2017. She added “Our goal, above all, is that the systems our allies buy are in line with our strategic relations,. She wondered “Can we convince our foreign friends and partners that this is a really serious issue?” She went on saying “We hope that they will take this into account when they think about arms purchases.” “We want them to understand what the negatives are, the true and serious negative ones for some purchases, including the purchase of Russian S-400, and instead to continue to focus on our missile systems.”The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was re-elected and has broad powers, is in conflict with NATO on several points including his declared intention to buy and deploy S-400 Missiles – anti aircrafts. Ankara’s desire to acquire the system comes according to many data changed after the failed coup, which made it reconsider its policies and alliances. This means that the Turkish defenses will not be compatible with the systems of Ankara’s Western allies and expose it to violations of American sanctions aimed at blocking the export of Russian weapons.

US lawmakers are looking at ways to punish Turkey if it buys Russian missiles. The S-400 system can drop all existing airborne means of attack, including aircraft, helicopters, drones, winged missiles, tactical ballistic missiles and tactical operations that can reach speeds of up to 5 km /second. Russian military say: This system can direct 72 missiles, destroy 36 targets at one time, and can be deployed within five minutes to be ready to work.

Relations between the two NATO member states are also strained by Washington’s support for Kurdish militants in Syria and defense purchases. Ankara and Washington agreed earlier this month on a plan to withdraw fighters from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units from the northern city of Manbij, a move Ankara has long sought. Turkey considers the group, backed by Washington, a terrorist organization. And lawsuits against US citizens held in Turkey, especially an American priest named Andrew Branson who is detained in terrorism-related cases.
Many Western countries, namely the United States and Turkey’s partners in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Israel, are in a state of cautious anticipation today, as these countries were betting on the impossibility of such a deal between two historical enemies, taking their place in distant alliances, It is just a game of futile political influence, initiated by Ankara with China, and today it is repeated with the Russians, with the aim of blackmailing its partners, getting what it wants from advanced Western weapons and technology and political concessions.

Will Washington’s failure to block this strategic military deal of this kind, bring the Turks and Russians closer together? Ankara’s allies in the West have managed to prevent Turkey from obtaining the Patriot, which it has demanded more than once, and only convince it that it is at its disposal when necessary. But Washington knows that a contract of this kind would be worth not as a trade deal between the two countries but in the meaning of this cooperation which will be the first of its kind as the largest Turkish-Russian military contract, and where Moscow will deliver to Ankara live models of the latest Russian air defense system, which helps to destroy the attacking aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles, with a range of 250 km and the height of 30 km.

The former Turkish defense minister says his country needs a reliable air defense system and “we will be able to meet our needs through this deal.” His American counterpart, James Matisse, accepts what Ankara says and says that Washington will not block a Turkish step of this kind. This is a sovereign decision that should be respected. But he does not hesitate to launch his threats when he declares that the work of the S-400 systems does not match operationally with the military equipment of the Atlantic, of which Turkey is one of its members, and the problem is how to ensure the work of these systems with our alliance systems… It will never work.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has been elected President of the Republic of Turkey and has extensive executive powers, is currently thinking deeply at a time of disappointments in which his country experienced with his NATO allies and EU partners. He asserts that Turkey will not wait any longer and that it has a wide range of options, but he is well aware that the Turkish move will have the price that Ankara must necessarily pay. First of all, Turkey should be excluded from the plans and programs of the Atlantic Defense Planning, and it should be removed from effective technical systems, including radar systems, monitoring and utilization of Western satellites, and early warning systems to protect its borders and forces .Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country would not abandon the purchase of Russian air defense S-400 systems, despite the United States imposing new sanctions on Moscow. Erdogan said that Turkey’s purchase of the S-400 missile systems “is of concern to some other countries, but Turkey will decide its own destiny, and this also concerns security issues,”
Turkey no longer wants to be at the mercy of the Western missile parachutes that abandoned Turkey in 1991, in the face of Saddam Hussein’s threats, and then abandoned it two years ago when the decision is taken to withdraw the Patriot missiles deployed on its Iranian-Syrian border at a time Turkey was urgently needed it . Turkey is betting far beyond the sale and purchase deal. It looks forward to Turkish-Russian military cooperation in manufacturing, training and co-financing in such programs, even though it knows that even if it gets what it wants it will be at the mercy of the transition from ” American dolphins “to” under the “Russian gutter in the strategic defense missile armament (out of the frying pan, into the fire – it gets from bad to worse).
The Russian-Turkish deal will inevitably exceed the sale of a range of Russian missiles to Turkey that it needs. It is s a new starting point, a strategic turning point, not only in the relations between the two countries and their regional and international alliances, but also in terms of Turkey’s relations with the West and its strategic partnership over 70 years ago, under the umbrella of more than a system of security, military and intelligence cooperation. Another fact is that the problem of Turkey’s need for new technical alternatives may require it to become more and more connected to Russia, to compensate for this shortfall, which is pushing it more and more into the lap of the new partner, which it knows is moving away from it in more than a bilateral and regional file. The signing of the final contract and the purchase of the Russian S-400 will mean, at best, a strong blow to the already weak Turkish-Western relationship, but it is a major adventure in Turkey’s strategic course of permanent volatility between East and West.

Turkish Studies Unit
Rawabet Center for Researches and Strategic Studies