Turkish President Tayyip Ergodan told reporters there was no problem with the purchase of Russian S-400 “Triumf” anti-aircraft weapon system and added that Ankara also started discussing about the possibility of acquiring S-500 in the future.
“In our talks with [Russia President Vladimir] Putin we are not thinking of stopping with the S-400s. We have had talks on the S-500s too,” Erdogan said.
Erdogan confirmed the news when he returned from a trip to Ukraine and Serbia.
According to him, there was no agreement on a joint production for the first stage of the S-400 production. However, the Turkish president hopes there will be cooperation in the second stage of production.
“…but in the second stage, God willing, we will take joint production steps,” Erdogan said.
Earlier in October, Turkey paid an advance to start the production of the S-400 anti-aircraft weapon system. Back in July, Erdogan confirmed both his country and Russia inked a deal on the state-of-the-art weapon system and even evoked the possibility of a joint production.
“Yes, we have received it [the down payment]. We can’t name the dates of supply yet. They want it earlier [than 2019], but the issue is still under discussion,” Russian presidential aide for military-technical cooperation Vladimir Kozhin said at the time, according to Russia Today.
As for the S-500, it is a missile system currently being developed by Russian manufacturer Almaz-Antey (the same producer for the S-400), and will enter service in the coming years.
The S-500 is believed to be the counterpart of the United States’ Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System (THAAD) and will offer Russia with a better system against stealth aircraft such as the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning II. Let’s not forget the United States’ B-1B and B-2 Spirit strategic bombers.
The B-1B can carry 24 B61 Mod 11 tactical nuclear bombs, which are stockpiled at the Incirklik Air Base in Turkey.
NATO’s Reaction to Turkey’s S-400 Deal
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that Turkey’s decision to acquire the Russian S-400 does not go against the alliance’s interests.
“I spoke with President Erdogan when I met him in September. I said that the kind of capabilities different nations want to acquire is a national decision,” Stoltenberg said.
Yet, back in July, US Defense Secretary James Mattis said that Ankara’s decision to acquire Russia’s S-400 would mean that their defence system would not be “interoperable with NATO systems.”
President Erdogan replied by saying that Turkey doesn’t and cannot wait for protection by his NATO allies.
“What do you expect? Should we wait for you?” he said.
The statement made by Secretary Mattis is a clear signal of the United States’ reluctance to see Turkey with Russian equipment, especially considering the fact that it has fighter aircraft and tactical nuclear weapons stationed at the Incirklik Air Base in Turkey.
It is my understanding that the United States is trying to prevent a shift in Turkish foreign policy, and see them align themselves with Russia. By pressuring Ankara’s deal with Russia on the S-400, the United States is trying to impose its own military-industrial complex as well as keeping Turkey dependent on the U.S. for supplying its weaponry.
The Bosphorus Strait is under Turkish control thus de facto under NATO’s control. However, if Turkey would move away from NATO and strengthen its ties with Russia, the Alliance would have a lot less leverage on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet and would see Russia’s A2/AD enhanced in Crimea.
It is pretty obvious that NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is trying to calm down the situation by stating Turkey’s right to acquire whatever type of weaponry they want, especially considering the fact that Greece, another NATO ally, is using Russian S-300 anti-aircraft weapon system.
That said, seeing Turkey leave NATO is almost unthinkable due to fears of conflict around Cyprus and the Aegean Sea. Both Greece and Turkey have been continuously fighting diplomatically and by violating each other’s airspace for decades.
Nevertheless, I believe the United States will keep pressuring Turkey’s decision to acquire Russian-made weaponry but will never move its tactical nuclear weapons due to the proximity of Syria, Iraq and Iran.