2018-07-29

F-35 hits the S-400

By Sergei Strokan, Elena Chernenko, Kirill Krivosheev


Before leaving for the summer holidays, the US Congress will have to pass a law on appropriations for national defense for 2019. He gives the White House the right not to punish the three states that are on the list of key buyers of Russian arms - India, Vietnam and Indonesia. At the same time, the administration failed to persuade Congress to include in this list one of the key US allies in Eurasia - Turkey. If Ankara purchases Russia's S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems, it may refuse to supply more than 100 F-35 fighters for a total of $ 10 billion. According to the experts interviewed by Kommersant, the question of whose favor the choice of Ankara will make remains open.

In the dispute about which of the branches of the US government will make the main decision on the implementation of the law "On Counteracting US Enemies through Sanctions" (CAATSA), the point is put. Agreed by the House of Representatives and Senate committees, the version of the National Defense Appropriations Act for 2019 gives President Trump's administration the authority not to apply CAATSA sanctions against the three leading buyers of Russian arms and technology - India, Vietnam and Indonesia.

Tactical cooperation between Russia
and Turkey can become strategic
By conceding to the White House, which had previously urged Congress not to punish these states to avoid complications in military-technical cooperation with them, the US Congress nevertheless showed its inflexibility towards other states, including Washington's key ally on the southern flank of NATO-Turkey. So, the amendment included in the draft defense budget for the coming year will suspend the sale of a large batch of fifth-generation F-35 fighters to Ankara until the US administration fulfills several conditions. The most important of them is the provision of a report to Congress on the implications for Turkey of Turkey's cooperation with Russia in the military-technical sphere. Earlier, US lawmakers warned that in the event of the already signed contract for the supply of Turkey's Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile systems, the country's getting F-35 fighters would be very problematic. As expected, the House of Representatives will vote for the final version of the defense budget for 2019 until the end of July, after which it will be approved by the Senate in August, even before Congress leaves for the summer holidays, and finally, President Donald Trump will sign.

The question of whether Turkey should be refused delivery of the F-35 in case of its unwillingness to close cooperation with Moscow on the S-400, until the last moment remained an apple of discord between the presidential administration and the Congress. In this case, each of the parties, seeking the right to leave the last word in this dispute, tried to play in advance.

Thus, at the end of June, despite the objections of legislators, the Pentagon delivered the first two F-35 fighters to the Turkish side: a solemn ceremony was held in Fort Worth, Texas. Recall that Ankara is interested in acquiring more than one hundred F-35. The total amount of the deal is estimated at $ 10 billion, and if implemented, it could become one of the largest in the US-Turkish defense cooperation.

Nevertheless, after the summit of the US and Russian presidents in Helsinki, opponents of Donald Trump, who accused him of being too compliant to Vladimir Putin and almost betraying national interests, demanded to speed up efforts to adopt new anti-Russian sanctions and to strictly enforce existing ones. As one of the priority measures, Democrats in Congress proposed to deprive the White House of the opportunity to bypass the CAATSA law, which obliges US authorities to impose sanctions against countries that purchase Russian weapons. The resulting compromise temporarily removes from the potential sanctions three countries of Southeast Asia, but increases the pressure on Turkey.


Turkey's new security concept may lead
to a dialogue with Damascus

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was in a difficult situation. Earlier, the Turkish side made it clear that it would not give up the contract with Moscow, and warned the US of the counterproductive nature of the sanctions. However, the experts interviewed by Kommersant pay attention to the fact that the price of the issue for Turkey in the event of the preservation of the S-400 deal can be high, given that Washington has powerful levers of influence on Ankara. It's not just about the threat of disrupting the deliveries of F-35 fighters, but also about the possible abandonment of other military supplies and even the gradual withdrawal of military-technical cooperation, which will hurt the defense of Turkey.

Simultaneously with the demand to the administration to provide a forecast of the consequences of cooperation between Turkey and the Russian Federation, Congress demanded from the Pentagon a report on the impact of the Turkish companies on the production program of the F-35.

According to experts, the question of whose benefit Ankara chooses will remain open. "Turkey's desire to obtain the S-400 is explained both by security considerations and geopolitical reasons. The possession of this system will provide Ankara with multi-purpose protection against long-range missiles, which in the Middle East region are owned by several states - Israel, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and cover from air strikes in the event of a conflict with a regional player, "explained the senior scientific Vasily Kashin, a member of the Higher School of Economics, Vasiliy Kashin. Besides, in the conditions of the consistent deterioration of relations with the US, it is of fundamental importance for President Erdogan not only to have an advanced air defense system. He needs a system that will not be controlled by the West and will provide his country with strategic autonomy in matters of security. "

"Anti-aircraft systems are necessary for Turkey to ensure its own security. At the same time, the alternative proposals of NATO allies were unacceptable for Ankara. The Turkish authorities imposed such terms of sale as geographical restrictions for the deployment of anti-missiles or restrictions on the transfer of sensitive technologies, "former Turkish Foreign Minister Yashar Yakysh continues." As a result, Ankara considered that the Russian proposal was more suited to it. "

Turkish officials have repeatedly said that the deal to purchase Russian anti-aircraft missile systems involves the transfer of sensitive technologies and the localization of production. However, the Russian authorities, commenting on this topic, did not directly confirm this.

Director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies Ruslan Pukhov assesses the importance of Russian S-400s to ensure the security of Ankara more restrained, insisting that Turkey's desire to obtain Russian air defense systems is largely due to the political game that President Erdogan conducts in relations with the US and Western countries, trying to put pressure on Washington and Brussels by playing the "Russian card".

NATO's Ankara is a unique asset of Moscow's diplomacy
"The military argument in seeking to obtain Russian S-400 for Ankara is far from being the main one. If, under the threat of US sanctions and the curtailment of military-technical cooperation with the US, President Erdogan realizes that in the issue of the S-400, the costs and risks for him are higher than originally thought, then he can opt out of the deal with Moscow. The Russian side should be prepared for such an unfavorable scenario and consider possible options for compensation in the event that the contract for the S-400 is not carried out, as it happened in time with the French Mistral helicopter carriers, "Mr. Pukhov explained to Kommersant.

However, the Turkish interlocutors of Kommersant do not share this opinion. "Ankara will still not refuse to purchase the S-400," Orkhan Gafarli, an expert at the Center for Political Studies in Ankara, assured Kommersant. "This requires a multi-vector policy. In addition, Ankara also has its advantages: its strategic position is extremely important for NATO. " A similar point of view is expressed by an expert of the Russian Council on Foreign Affairs Timur Akhmetov, who lives in Ankara. "For the purchase of the S-400, Turkey will be punished only by the failure of the F-35 contract, but I do not think that the US will go on to complete the cessation of military-technical cooperation," Timur Akhmetov told Kommersant.

2018-07-11

Tactical cooperation between Russia and Turkey can become strategic

by Prof. Dr. Salih Yılmaz


After the June 24, 2018 elections in Turkey, the West is likely to take decisive steps in foreign policy. Turkey and Russia should reconsider their relationship, especially against possible US maneuvers. After Nikol Pashinyan came to power in Armenia, supported by the US, Turkey and Russia should return to the solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which will allow resolving an important regional crisis. If this problem is not solved, Azerbaijan can enter the Western bloc, created by the United States in accordance with the plans of Iran's encirclement. After all, both Israel and the United States are interested in strengthening ties with Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan in the current conditions. Iran, trying to deprive Azerbaijan of influence, is trying to use the Talysh population of the country for this.

Talyshs are a national minority of 500,000 people residing in Azerbaijan. In 1993 they rebelled, proclaiming the establishment of the Talysh-Mugan Republic. As a result, their leader fled abroad. Currently, they are broadcasting from Armenia via the Talishistan-TV channel, headed by Alikram Khumbetov. Turkish-Russian cooperation can not be durable without the solution of the problems in the Caucasus. Obviously, the two countries will cooperate in this direction.

As you know, relations between the US and Turkey over the past 3 years are extremely tense. The Astana process, which unites Iran, Turkey and Russia, causes concern in Washington. In fact, the tactical cooperation of these three countries is beneficial to each of them. Iran because of economic problems is in an increasingly difficult situation. The US, apparently, will try to set up Turkey against Iran. However, it is obvious that Turkey, Iran and Russia are currently "floating on the same ship". And if one of these states drowns, then others will suffer injuries. Therefore, neither Turkey nor Russia will support the anti-Iranian position of the United States.

The cooperation of Russia, Iran and Turkey in Syria is aimed only at establishing peace through political means. Therefore, it can not be said that the three countries agree on all issues. Most likely, their cooperation is limited to Syria. In addition, Russia is trying to use Turkey as an energy corridor. The tactical nature of this cooperation is due to several factors. As you know, three countries in the past have fought against each other many times. And without US intervention, their interests often did not match. If the US weakens its pressure on the region, the cooperation of the three states can also be weakened, and each of them can follow its own path. After all, they, in the end, united the Syrian crisis and the US position. Thus, cooperation between Turkey, Russia and Iran will continue as long as the American threat remains in the region.

Of course, the US will not attack Iran. Over the past 2 years, they have moved to a new systematic policy on Iran. In Armenia, through a coup d'état, a government has come to power, which will coordinate its actions with the United States. Thus, the alliance between Iran and Armenia became controversial. Recently, Azerbaijan conducted an operation on the border with Armenia, whose goal, in particular, was to convey to Iran's understanding that Azerbaijan would not tolerate the presence of pro-Iranian militias in its territory, namely in Nardaran. The reason was the statement that Iran tried to make a coup in Azerbaijan. At this time, Azerbaijan is trying to turn into a field of confrontation between Israel and Iran. Undoubtedly, Turkey in the near future will try to strengthen cooperation with Azerbaijan.

In Georgia, the government has also changed. Even at the opening ceremony of the TANAP project, Georgia was not represented at the highest level. All these events are somehow connected with Iran. The US does not want to interfere in Iran, but at the same time it does not mind to cause a turmoil in this country that could lead to its disintegration. The real goal of the US in Iran is regime change. In addition, Washington, calling on Turkey to participate in the embargo against Iran, is trying to spark a crisis in relations between Turkey and Iran.

As the US intensifies pressure on Turkey, Turkey will move away from the United States. Turkey is not afraid of threats from the EU or the US. The most critical for Turkey was the election process. But even before the elections Ankara, assuming any risks, confronted all threats of the West, and after the elections, President Erdogan would never bow before them. The author of the article thinks that Turkey will refuse purchases of S-400 air defense systems. In this case, the only way out of the current situation may be the US refusal to support PKK / PYD in Syria and ignoring Turkey in a new world order. Otherwise, Turkey will be able to exercise its right to legitimate self-defense. In this process, tactical cooperation between Russia and Turkey can turn into strategic cooperation.

2018-07-02

Dynamics of the new Turkish foreign policy and Russian dimension

by  Prof. Dr. M. Seyfettin Erol


In the post-Cold War period, the states have entered into two major struggles in search of the "New World Order". The first of these is about "survival" and the other is about being able to take place effectively in this new period, that is to be a power centre. In terms of some states, it turns out to be just a survival question, and while some of them are losing, others are looking for this regional or global power status. For example, in the US-led "unipolar" world, it is very important that Russia's "multipolarity" originate from some of its worries, and thus make its pioneering role.

Hence, here is " multipolarity ", in fact, the global survival struggle against the US on a global basis can be regarded as an antidote. So, states, as a response to the US hegemony, and hence with the common threat to their national security, respond with a "multipolarity" policy, and these tend to unite based on such collective stance. As a matter of fact, it is because of this reason that the idea of multipolarity is so popular. In this context, it will be clearer what I mean when we look carefully at the formation and development processes of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in the period from 1996 to 2001.


In the process of building a new world order yet unnamed, some states, notably Turkey, are in a very interesting position. To put it more concretely, these states, returning to their historical codes, co-present the two struggles simultaneously. In other words, these states are trying to be a regional-global power while waging a struggle for survival. 

No doubt, this issue is another important factor in the case of Russia. Because Russia has felt a second post-Soviet break up and therefore declared its policy of close neighbourhood with the concern of survival, today Russia has gone a long way in becoming a global power after this turmoil ...

Therefore, in terms of states which are in the process of returning to their historical codes, it is quite important to be able to follow a policy that is in line with the spirit of time, with its own facts, values and understanding of historical missions. As a matter of fact, those who have entered into the transformation process in accordance with this new process, that is, those who can reconstruct their state, are affected by this threat at least. Those who stay passive are losing ...

It is more than enough for you to look at the developments after the Cold War. At least today there is no such thing as Yugoslavia on earth. Moreover, with this example, states are facing the threat of "Yugoslavization". If we say that the regions, the "Balkanization" of geographies pass by " Yugoslavization ", we probably are not wrong. 


Thus, today's Greater Middle East Project, which is currently threatening Turkey, is in fact a project of " Yugoslavization ". Russia, like Yugoslavia, is a state in which this threatened individual lived simultaneously. The "response" and the "method", "rhetoric" and "tools" used by Brzezinski in response to this indirect threat to Russia are very important in this respect; especially in terms of two states with a common geography and past.

As a matter of fact, the new period of Turkish foreign policy is very much in the foreground especially with the size of Russia. The "normalization process", revised on June 27, 2016, entitled "Action Plan for Cooperation in Eurasia", dated November 16, 2001, sabotaged on November 24, 2015, has a very important place in it. The momentum of the Syrian / Middle East-based cooperation that took place in Turkish-Russian relations after June 27, and the extent to which it reaches strategic partnership, seriously disturbs the western world, especially US-NATO. Even more, Astana Process, S-400 and the process by showing the iconic trend now constitutes one of the major address of the nuclear threat to Turkey.

West's two other locations in the perception of a common threat that exists in the relationship between Turkey and Russia "alliance neighborhoods" to be directed to the course, equivalent to the USA's biggest nightmare. The US is aware that it will not be limited to the S-400s question. Therefore, different methods against Turkey were given a trial. President Donald Trump, for example, recently showed a carrot to Turkey, while Deputy Foreign Minister Wess Mitchell shows a "stick”. It is one of the last examples when Mitchell threatened by Washington's sanctions if Ankara fails to pass the S-400 air defence system agreement from Russia.

So, Russia has a very important place here. Of course, it is not only the weapon systems that Russia possesses so important. The experience of Russia after the Cold War is quite important. And it seems that this experience had a significant impact on Turkey of the case. Well, what kind of experience is that? And it really can be a model for Turkey? How does this affect the course of Turkish foreign policy, its position? Does it lead to an axis change or a new axis? The post-Cold War era was not only in the context of the collapse of the USSR empire, but also in many of the theories, concepts and institutions that were so popular until now. The fact that most of the ancestors, or replacements of the existing ones, have not been introduced, continues to show itself as an issue in itself.


This is also the reason why the building built on the bipolarity is collapsing along with the "identity problem" that is shaped around the "Who am I?" all over the world. Nations / states who can not give the answer to this question are either erased from the stage of history or are still in a survival struggle.

One of the states that sought answers to this question under the different models was, of course, the Russian Federation. This issue, which I have discussed in detail below, can be considered as a missing decade for Russians. But the same thing can not be said for the second decade. As a matter of fact, Russia is now a model in itself, trying to apply some of them to different quests in the face of the "defeat" and "identity" depression that it faces in the post-Cold War period. Today, "Russian model" as described in this case can, of course, also once again Turkey's "interest" in the field. This is not the first time.


"Strong Leadership" - "Strong System" - "Strong State"

As I underlined in my previous article, Russia, Turkey and other countries in terms of the issues of course that makes it so attractive is that not only have weapons systems. The answer given by Russia towards the threats it faces in the post-Cold War era and experience in this context is very important. In particular, the developments after President Vladimir Putin once again show how powerful a system and leadership are in terms of countries with a strong geopolitical-strategic position. So, first of all, a strong sense of leadership comes from the basis of "Russia Model". If it is not a strong leader, neither system can operate, nor can these countries be free from the threat of "Balkanization" or "Yugoslavization". The Yeltsin era is one of the best examples of this.


Putin's greatest success here is that he has made a good comparison of his country's strengths with weaknesses and developing a policy accordingly. Indeed, the fact that Russia, which does not have a serious competence and capacity with the West in the context of "soft power", is forced to shape the new international system through "crude power" and achieves to a great extent what it wants at this point, of course, as a great success of Putin.

One of the most important secrets underlying Putin's success is that it comes from the security bureaucracy in the international system, which is in a state of well-defined and security-driven restructuring. In this context, Putin's intelligence identity is a great chance for Russia. Because today, intelligence agencies called "phantom armies" are one step ahead of the armed forces. The doctrines that Putin publishes in his country are very important in this respect. As a matter of fact, these doctrines published in the Putin era have made "Russia's Near Environment Policy" more effective and meaningful. Furthermore, as I have already pointed out in my previous article, Russia is in search of a "Near-Earth Empire" with some states around Russia, and this has already come a long way.

"Russia / Putin Model"

As mentioned above, in the post-Cold War era, the Russian Federation, when faced with the threat of "Yugoslavia", began to search for an answer to this question and began to follow a policy that smelled pragmatism. Despite everything, Westernism, 2nd Panslavism, 3rd Asianism, 4th Eurasianism. In this configuration, no doubt, the following five issues provided a crucial advantage: 1. Historical experience and values, 2. Historical geography and depth, 3. Historical mission-vision conception, 4. Central-environmental integrity, 5. Strong understanding of the state and leadership. Putin in this context; The politics of Russia, which embodies the stance of "stability-consistency-continuity" in principle, taking into account the "politics-strategy-means" of Russia's realities, objectives and perceptions of threats, is the essence of the "Russian Model" or "Putin Model" creating.

On the other hand, it is important to draw the gold on the following point: the model, with Russia or Putin making an attractive / strong leader, covered primarily an issue for the medium-long term in its relations with other actors, including Turkey also carries with it. So, how this handicap will affect the future of Turkey-Russia relations? What is "Putin Model" applicable? If the application of this model anywhere in Turkey? In this context, what is the role of this model if US President Donald Trump will meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and then Putin?