Turkey Faces Threats For Inking Landmark Arms Deal With Russia

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Written by Alex Gorka; Originally appeared at The Strategic Culture Foundation

The long awaited deal has taken place. A deposit has already been paid. Turkey has finally signed the $2.5bn (£1.9bn) contract with Russia to buy S-400 advanced missile defense system. With a range of 400 kilometers (248 miles), the system can shoot down up to 80 targets simultaneously, aiming two missiles at each one, at an altitude of up to 30 km.

The system is not operationally compatible with the systems used by NATO countries, which gives Turkey a military capacity independent of the alliance. NATO commanders will not have control over it. The identification friend or foe (IFF) equipment won’t prevent Turkey from using it against NATO aircraft and missiles. Reaching full operational capability will require Russian personnel to be stationed in Turkey on advice, assistance and training missions.

Turkey Faces Threats For Inking Landmark Arms Deal With Russia

The technology transfer component of the S-400 deal is especially important as it would allow Turkey to rapidly expand domestic defense industry with Russia’s help. Russia would supply two batteries and help Ankara build two more such systems. A few years ago, the US refused to let Turkey produce Patriot air defense systems on its soil and the deal was off.

Ankara does not have industrial infrastructure to produce air defense systems. Russian specialists will have to come and build it from scratch. As a result, Russia will get access to the defense infrastructure of a NATO member state. The agreement to build the Akkuyu nuclear power plant in Turkey, which is to be launched by 2023, is another example of fruitful economic cooperation.

NATO insists members of the alliance are obligated to use military hardware that is interoperable with each other’s systems. But the S-400 deal is not the first time the principle of interoperability is not observed. Greece purchased Russia’s S-300 missile system several years ago.

The move – a further sign of Ankara’s gradual estrangement from its Western allies – meets the strategic goal to acquire the nationally controlled defense capability. Turkey has also criticized the US and its allies for their reticence about selling it military arms and technology.

As had been expected, the deal triggered the anger of the United States and other NATO members. The US had long been warning Turkey against the deal. “We have relayed our concerns to Turkish officials regarding the potential purchase of the S-400. A NATO interoperable missile defense system remains the best option to defend Turkey from the full range of threats in its region,” Pentagon spokesman Johnny Michael said in a statement.

Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, asked the US administration to assess how the deal might affect Turkey’s NATO membership and US security assistance to Ankara, which includes weapons sales. He issued the warning on September 14 in a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. According to him, the deal violated a bill signed into law in August that imposes sanctions “on any person that conducts a significant transaction with the Russian Federation’s defense or intelligence sectors.”

The idea of introducing sanctions against Turkey has been on the EU’s agenda for quite some time. The announcement of the deal with Russia came after German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said his country was suspending all major arms exports to Turkey because of the deteriorating human rights situation in the country and the increasingly strained ties. Gabriel added he believed that Turkey had also abandoned NATO’s common values. The idea of economic sanctions against Turkey is quite popular in Germany.

So, the three big powers, Russia, Turkey and Iran, united by the desire to end the bloodshed in Syria and rout terrorists, have become the targets of Western sanctions already imposed or still to be introduced. The pressure makes them get closer to each other. The cooperation between Russia and Turkey is on the rise and offers great prospects. Iran’s Armed Forces Chief of Staff, Major General Mohammad Bagheri visited Turkey in mid-August – the first visit by an Iranian chief of staff since Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution. The common threat of terrorism and Western pressure nudge Russia, Turkey and Iran towards one another.

The three states work together within the framework of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) where Russia is a full-fledged member, Turkey has the status of dialogue partner and Iran, an observer, is expected to become a member soon. Last November, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey could become part of the SCO.

Ankara is also showing increasing interest in the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). It was invited to join the organization in 2014. This will open new opportunities for developing trade. Furthermore, many of the present and potential members of the EAEU are countries with whom Turkey already has close relations. The Eurasian Economic Union aims to finalize a free-trade deal with Iran by the end of the year. Reaching a deal with Iran on free trade would represent a notable victory for the organization. With Turkey and Iran as members, the EAEU would acquire a global dimension.

Obviously, there is one result the Western sanctions produce – the targeted countries come together to create alternative poles of power. Threats and restrictive measures spur the process. This policy has failed to keep Turkey away from military cooperation with Russia. In the multipolar world there is always an alternative to turn to.

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  • Barba_Papa

    I still don’t trust the Turks. Corrections, most Turkish people are perfectly fine, it’s Crazy Erdogan which I don’t trust. Whatever relationship there is between Russia, Iran and Turkey, it’s a forced marriage with no love present. Turkey now occupies parts of two countries, Cyprus and Syria, and still supports terrorists in Syria.

    The dude just cannot be trusted.

    • Rodger

      Most Turkish people voted for Erdogan, he’s doing what they want. And half of Cyprus is a very small price to pay to keep them out of the EU.

      • Barba_Papa

        Does the Western electorate vote any better? We keep on electing the same establishment clowns election after election after election.

        • Rodger

          No, we don’t. And that one is on us. Just as Erdogan is on the Turks.

      • Brother Ma

        Tell that to the cypriots. Cyprus natos czechoalovakia of 1938 ” peace in our time ” by idiot chamberlain!

        • Rodger

          Chamberlain was only an idiot when he declared war on Germany. And the Cypriots that don’t want to live on one side of the island can just move to the other side (and they already did 40 years ago).

          • Cyriak Papasissis

            The Turks in Cyprus committed ethnic cleansing in 1974 , in case you didn’t notice. The Cypriots were forced to leave their homes & orchards, 2400 were massacred. Small fish for you , the massacres thereafter in other places got bigger and bigger , so that you are desensitized by now. In their place Turkey brought in settlers. The settlers now overwhelm the local Turkish Cypriots. But after settling Syria , the turn of Cyprus will come to get rid of the Turks

          • Rodger

            Cyprus gets a lot of aid from the EU, tens of billions over the years. You are well compensated for being a point of contention with Turkey. Sorry I don’t care about a few orchards you lost over 40 years ago.

    • Arthur Smith

      That’s why Russia lays trap after trap, cutting off his escape =)

    • Langaniso Mhlobo

      He has badly betrayed Assad just like France the front dogs.

    • Cyriak Papasissis

      Turkey has inflicted enormous damage to the Syrian economy , by stealing indirectly whole factories’ equipment. It left Syria bereft of manufacturing in many instances. I agree , Russia does not trust Turkey , they are notorious double-dealers. Russia succeeded to start laying the Gas pipeline under the Black Sea, the replacement of the ill-fated South Stream , cancelled under US hostile subversion of the project. That matters a lot for Putin. Russia benefits also from the relative disarray of the Turkey-based insurgents , that afford it a modicum of success in stabilizing Syria , allowing for the concentration on ISIS. The Russians , diplomacy & military , have proved themselves the absolute textbook masters in the field.

      • Brother Ma

        The CIA were so upset abour greece buying russian weapons and building a pipeline- southstream- that they got the pipeline proposal quashed on so called environmental grounds and weapons buy quashed on lack of interoperability.

        In fact the CIA even tried to kill pm karamanlis.he was only saved by russian fsb ,russians put there by putin! All this even before putin saved erdogan’s bacon.

        For those that do not know karamanlis is from most american friendly political dynasty and party in greece.so it seems that you are only as good as your last day of helping americans.the day you so something for your country they hate u and they try to kill you.

        As for karamanlis in away he deaerves it as he was also involved in selling off sovereignty.to add insult to injury,the cia main agent was a dastardly renegade greek.

        Let this be a lesson to those who trust blindly in american nato promises!

        • Cyriak Papasissis

          Indeed , all of it correct. The only doubt is , whether the attempt was meant to frighten Karamanlis only (as was the case with Heydar Aliyev), or to actually kill him. Greece is full of CIA agents , always was. CIA agent John Kiriakou admitted on camera that he recruited a General of the Greek Army. The current interior minister is a US plant, in so called ”left” gown. Many officers in the Army and the police are CIA plants. That is why they so easily crush every scent of opposition to the country’s plunder , under a totally controlled ”left” regime. You are right , the US throws under the bus in the end all of their cordial friends , plants , stooges. All are expendable , like diapers. But you are wrong in saying Karamanlis sold out sovereignty. It was not him . He was nearly overthrown by the US-controlled mob, like color revolution , and disgraced he lost the 2009 election. Sovereignty was sold out by his elected successor George Papandreou, a deep penetration US plant , a total buffoon , who cannot even think straight. An implanted clown.

  • John

    This is a major stick in the eye to NATO and the EU. It would have been unimaginable just a short time ago.

    • Rodger

      I would rather have Turkey as an enemy than as a member of the EU. But I hope the NATO and EU will stop their never satisfied need for expanding into more and more troubled regions.

  • mhtsaropinigitakis

    You made a mistake at your article…Greece did not buy s-300 they received them as a gift from Cyprus…Cyprus bought them but turkey threaded with war if they installed then in Cyprus soil… so it had to be send to Greece for free.

    • Brother Ma

      Very true.some say the s300 in greece are useless as they have not been able to get them to work with Nato link 16? Interoperability with radars etc.yet israel wargamed against greek s300s .

      So truth is probably somewhere in between.

      • mhtsaropinigitakis

        you mean their f-35 training vs the greek s-300? trying to actually see if they are stealth to russian technology.. the test that failed?

        • Brother Ma

          Did it fail? Can you provide me with sources please.

      • Cyriak Papasissis

        The S 300 were mothballed as soon as they arrived in Greece. They were never test-fired , except once, never were part of air-defense exercises, never integrated as an active part of air-defense capabilities.. They were only useful at helping Israel AF to decipher how to respond to them.

  • VGA

    The Cyprus/Greece buy of the S300 was 20 years ago, not “several years”.

  • Terra Cotta Woolpuller

    What seems to be lacking in the comments and the article is that the most important thing is overlooked by these block style countries , they give up increasingly large amounts of their sovereignty and ability act on getting the best bang for the money for it’s people and national well being.

  • Real Anti-Racist Action

    Russia sells its more precious asset to NATO, (Turkey is the second largest NATO member)
    but Russia will not sell to Syria or Iran?
    Russia is a backstabber just like their best friend Turkey.
    http://ihr.org/