In the course of a joint press conference by Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russia’s president Vladimir Putin, held in Turkey’s capital city Ankara on Tuesday, Erdogan and Putin announced that the previously scheduled delivery of Russia’s advanced S-400 anti-aircraft missiles at the end of 2019 would be moved up.
At the press conference, Putin said:
We have decided with President Erdogan in our meeting to speed up the delivery of the S-400 systems. Our Turkish colleagues made a request in the meetings. We will accelerate the process.
This is an issue of commerce. Companies are working on it.
According to Turkish and Russian media, the S-400 is Russia’s most advanced long-range anti-aircraft missile system with a capacity of carrying three types of missiles capable of destroying targets including aircraft, and ballistic and cruise missiles. The system can track and engage up to 300 targets at a time and has an altitude ceiling of 27 kilometers (17 miles). In addition, the system’s radars detect aerial targets at a distance of up to 600 kilometers (373 miles).
So there are some unanswered questions about this deal:
- What is the intended target of these S-400 missiles? Is Erdogan planning to target American warplanes? Israeli warplanes? Iranian warplanes? Syrian warplanes? Armenian warplanes? Nato warplanes?
- And what’s the rush? Which of these potential targets has become so imminently dangerous that Erdogan needs to accelerate the delivery of the missiles?
In an interview before the press conference, Putin said:
A priority task in the sphere of military technical cooperation is the implementation of the contract for supplies of S-400 Triumf missile systems to Turkey.
We hope that the sectoral intergovernmental commission will look into the prospects for further supplies of Russian-made military hardware to Turkey at its next meeting.
So the obvious question is: Why is Putin so anxious to sell these systems to Turkey?
According to other reports, Russia is delivering the same S-400 systems to China. Whom does Putin think that Turkey and China will be using these anti-aircraft missiles against?
Is Putin really so certain that Turkey and China will not use the S-400 missiles against Russia? Or maybe something deeper is going on – like a secret way for Russia to disable these missiles remotely?
NATO officials are strongly opposed to this deal between Turkey and Russia, because Turkey is member of NATO and so it is important that all weapons systems of all NATO countries be interoperable with each other. However, Russia’s S-400 system is not interoperable with other NATO weapons systems, so deploying S-400 systems represents a sharp rejection by Turkey of its relationship with NATO.
This also provides one more reason why Putin is anxious to deliver S-400 systems to Turkey as quickly as possible – to make sure that Turkey cannot militarily cooperate with NATO. Anadolu (Ankara) and Tass (Moscow) and Hurriyet (Ankara) and Tass