There has been a firestorm of controversy in Western defense circles and in Washington regarding this delivery of Russian S-400 to Ankara. At the end of the day, Ankara is simply acting in its own interests. Since no one operates in a vacuum, whether those interests align with NATO or US interests is another matter entirely. The Erdoğan government was all too happy to work with ISIS with porous borders with Syria when it suited its needs and later unleashed a million Syrian migrant flow onto other NATO members when Ankara didn't get what it wanted from the EU. Turkey has a large military and could shutdown migrant flows at will. This behavior raises deeper serious questions about the purpose of NATO membership and militarization of US foreign policy, where policy is dictated by the Pentagon rather than civilian democratically elected leaders. Dwight D. Eisenhower's warning unheeded.
If the purpose of NATO is to defend liberal-democracies, then NATO needs to answer some fundamental questions about Turkey's current membership. If the core principle of NATO, that being to militarily defend liberal democracies from authoritarian Soviet-style regimes, then Turkey is neither as democratic, secular, or strategic as it once was. Otherwise, what exactly are you defending and asking others to die for? Recep Tayyip Erdoğan certainly does not meet anything close to this standard and there are other ways to acquire Russian technology.
After Erdoğan and the entire block of actors arrayed against Bashar Assad in Syria - miscalculated that Russia would not enter the Syrian War to protect Gazprom markets (and therefore Assad) from Qatari gas pipelines (routing through Syria, Turkey, and through into Europe), Ankara then switches sides in hopes of retaining its gain made from its Operation Olive Branch as well as falling in line with Krelim interests after the TurkSteam project was announced. Expect further Russia-Turkey alignment independent from Washington interests.
The Turkish operation in Syria was effectively a military land grab reaching down into Syria to just north of Hama. And Ankara wants to keep its new Turkmen Olive Branch pocket from collapsing. The pocket has now come under heavy pressure for months by Syrian government forces. Erdoğan is grasping for leverage with the Russians in Syria in hopes of restraining the Kremlin-Assad from rolling back Olive Branch. It won't work. Ankara and most western observers still do not understand Kremlin goals in Syria - even though when discussing Gazprom, they are simple and obvious.
The S-400 system delivered to NATO and the Turks will be a downgraded export version with features that the Kremlin wants NATO to know. If Erdoğan hands the system over to the Americans, time will tell. The Kremlin surely has assumed he will.
|1st S-400 Triumph Squadron patch to operate from Mürted Air Base.|
"Russian S-300s are used by 3 NATO member countries. Russia sold missile defense systems to 20 countries, including NATO member countries such as Bulgaria, Greece, and Slovakia
Following protracted efforts to purchase air defense systems from the U.S. with no success, Ankara decided in 2017 to purchase the S-400.
The S-300 system, completed in 1978, is designed to defend against short and medium-range air attacks and is considered one of the world’s most powerful air defense systems.
The Kardak crisis in the Aegean Sea, which broke out in the final days of 1995 and reached its peak in January 1996, became a turning point in Greece's defense strategy.
The first step Athens took in this regard in 1996 was to sign a deal with Russia for the purchase of the S-300 air defense system for deployment on Greek Cypriot soil.
Greece signed new agreements with Russia in 1999 and 2004 to purchase TOR-M1 and OSA AKM (SA-8B) medium- and low-altitude air defense systems.
|S-400 System, Murted AB Turkey, 12-July, 2019. (AP)|
Both missile systems have radar systems that would pose a danger to NATO air forces.
S-300s were initially developed for use against aircraft, but later it became capable of defending against ballistic missiles.
The U.S. also purchased the Russian-made S-300 air defense system in the past, the New York Times said on Dec. 24, 1994.
The U.S. has secretly purchased one S-300 system to examine the system and develop its own Patriot systems, the report added."
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