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How Russia creates problems for both NATO and itself by strengthening Turkey


Turkey is in no hurry to give up its membership in the Alliance(NATO), realizing its benefits from membership in this organization

Turkey’s readiness to acquire the second batch of Russian S-400 missile defense systems, recently voiced by Turkish President Erdogan, at first glance seems to be a positive event and joyful from all sides. Still – the delivery to Turkey of the first regiment S-400 brought the Russian budget almost 2.5 billion dollars, which by any standards is quite an impressive amount. It would seem that now that Turkey already has this type of missile defense system, there is no point in looking for pitfalls in this agreement. You just need to replicate the success and until the “client” has woken up, to earn on it a few billion more …

It would be possible to agree with this, if not for one nuance – the delivery of the second batch of Russian missile defense systems should be accompanied, as stated by the Turkish side, by the transfer of technologies and the establishment of joint production already on Turkish territory. And this is changing things considerably, especially given all the rough edges that have been between Russian countries in the last couple of years.

Let me remind you that in a relatively short period of time Russian and Turkish weapons have entered into direct confrontation three times – in Syria, Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh. Fortunately, it never came to a direct clash of Russian armies, but each time Moscow received serious reputational damage, expressed both in the general blow to the image of Russia, as a strong and influential state, and in damage to the reputation of Russian weapons, the export of which, I recall, is a rather tangible article of replenishment of the Russian budget. And most importantly, we have seen that Turkey puts its interests above all else, Ankara is not very ready for compromises and is not afraid of direct confrontation with Moscow, even where it previously dominated.

In general, as practice shows, Russian “partner” is such that sometimes it is time to talk not about cooperation, but about the war with it. And it is obvious that the stronger Ankara, the more audacious it behaves. So should Russia go on about the Turkish “wanted” and transfer to the southern neighbor very sensitive technologies in electronics and rocket science, or is it better to be careful?

On the one hand, there is nothing surprising in Turkish demands. Indeed, in recent years, many states, which had just imported the weapons they needed, have thought about localizing their production at home. The logic here is clear – some of the money spent on foreign weapons remains in the country and begins to work for its economy through the creation of new jobs and industries. In addition, there is automatically its own repair base for purchased equipment, which in some cases is very important. And the last, and not by meaning – the appearance of the buyer of technologies and competencies, allowing him, in the future, to talk about the creation of their own models of modern weapons.

Examples of such cooperation, with the transfer of some technology to the buyer, can be given not so few. And it was not only Russia, as some sometimes think – it is enough to recall the Israeli-Azerbaijan joint venture in the suburbs of Baku, where Israeli drones of different types are assembled, to understand that even very successful arms-exporting states do not shy away from this scheme.

India is one of the main beneficiaries of this approach to military procurement, as well as one of its sponsors. In recent decades, several major military contracts have been implemented there with partial or complete transfer of technology. In particular, these are contracts with Moscow for the supply (and assembly) of T-90S and Su-30MKI tanks, as well as India’s recent contract with France for the supply of Rafale fighter jets. The latter, however, faced a number of difficulties and delays, but that’s a different story …

We can recall the delivery to Egypt of American tanks M1A1 “Abrams”, which was also carried out on the condition of the establishment of the country-buyer assembly from American nodes. According to the contract, the Egyptian side was able to bring the number of these tanks in its army to 1,130 pieces, which is a very significant number for the Middle East region. That is, the world “hegemon” and the trendsetter in the arms market of such schemes also does not shy away. And if so, should Moscow be particularly sensitive in this matter? After all, money, as you know, does not smell …

However, as mentioned above, Turkey is not a very simple buyer. This is due both to the country’s own geopolitical ambitions and to the fact that it is actively developing its own weapons of various types, and there is no doubt that the knowledge and technology obtained from Russia Turkish scientists and designers necessarily use in the creation of their own developments. And this may lead to the fact that one day we will have to enter into a direct military confrontation with Turkey on some part of the geopolitical map of the world, and Russian soldiers will die from weapons, which we helped the Turks to create.

Although at the moment there is no accurate information on what exactly the Turks would like to produce on their own territory, it can be assumed that in this case both electronic components of the missile defense system and anti-aircraft missiles for it are of particular interest. Moreover, the latter maybe even more interesting to the Turkish side, and for Russias, the transfer of missile technology may be the most painful.

The S-400 complex has a whole set of missiles of different ranges and purposes. Of particular interest is the 40N6E missile with a radius of up to 380 kilometers, a working height of up to 30 kilometers and an active homing system on the final section of the trajectory. Suffice it to say that such means of defeat, in general, are very few in the world – conventional analogs are only in the U.S. and China, although in both cases there are big differences. But the most important thing is not even this – it is unlikely that Turkey will be able to fully reproduce such a complex system as the mentioned surface-to-air missile of ultra-long range. But it is quite possible to create a whole line of operational-tactical ballistic missiles with a range of more than 500 kilometers on the basis of the received technologies. And if that happens, the Turks will literally jump over a few steps and save decades. And most importantly, within the range of these missiles may be already directly Russian territory. That, coupled with Erdogan’s undisguised desire to acquire his own nuclear weapons, is totally unacceptable for Russia.

At the same time, the Kremlin’s desire to continue the Russians ‘ rapprochement with Ankara and the gradual pulling of it from NATO is noticeable. What in itself can be considered reasonable is the benefits of NATO’s weakening more than the harm from some of Turkey’s reinforcement. In any case, in the current geopolitical situation, this is absolutely certain. Moreover, we can say with confidence that if Turkey is outside NATO, it will become one of the likely opponents of this block. This is connected with both the Turkish ambitions themselves and the long-standing confrontation between Turkey and Greece, which has a long history and is unlikely to be forgotten soon. Although, judging by recent events, no one is going to forget it – Turkish claims to offshore areas in the border seas, divided Cyprus and periodically erupting air confrontation between the countries as if hints to us that relations between Turkey and Greece in the coming years are unlikely to become neighborly.

That is, by strengthening Ankara, Moscow potentially poses significant problems for both NATO and Israel, whose role in Syria, from Moscow’s point of view, is difficult to call constructive. Perhaps this motive is the main thing for the Kremlin in relations with Erdogan. And it seems that the Turkish president understands this, on the verge of a foul pushing through Turkish interests in different parts of the world.

As you know, in part the Kremlin line has already yielded results – the delivery of the first regiment of S-400 missile defense systems to Turkey led to a significant complication of U.S.-Turkish relations, which was reflected, in particular, in the exclusion of Turkey from the program of creation and procurement of the F-35 fighter. In general, relations between Ankara and Washington have become very complicated, which has led to the curtailment or freezing of several more joint military programs. But it should be noted that Ankara is in no hurry to slam the door and refuse nato membership – even a nationalist like Erdogan understands the benefits to Turkey from membership in this organization.

Turkey’s lure to its side is, to put it mildly, very slow. But once again, the Kremlin is not under any illusions about it. He would get the alliance’s largest army out of NATO, after the United States, and at the same time provoke a discussion about the necessity of this alliance, as such, and it would be possible to make friends with Ankara, or it would remain a lone wolf rushing at its neighbors, it’s the tenth thing. Moreover, Turkey, as the main bogeyman and irritant in the region, can also be very useful.

Still, it is obvious that even such prospects should not be much about the heads of Kremlin strategists. The stakes in geopolitical games are very high, but you should not forget about Russian own security in any case. This means that Russian can state in advance that the too-broad interpretation of the concept of “transfer of technologies” in the case of deliveries to Turkey of the S-400 missile defense system will be harmful to Russia, or even dangerous. The best solution would be to allow the Turkish side to save face and report on the successful protection of national interests but excludes Turkey’s forced development of modern short- and medium-range ballistic missiles.


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