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memri
July 22, 2019 No.
8186

Russian Military Expert Felgenhauer: Turkey Is No Ally

Russian Military expert Pavel Felgenhauer commented in the Russian media outlet Novaya Gazeta on the recent deliveries of Russian S-400 missile defense systems to Turkey.[1] According to Felgenhauer, Turkey is not an ally, since – even recently - the Turkish forces prevented the Syrian government forces from launching an operation, prepared by the Russian command, in Syria's Idlib province.

Below are excerpts from Felgenhauer's article:


Pavel Felgenhauer (Image: 1news.az)


(Source: Novayagazeta.ru)

"… The usual procedure for implementing export deals in the realm of military-technical cooperation is to have rail delivery of the special item to a Black Sea port, then it is delivered onboard by sea directly to Turkey, which would have been logistically simpler, much cheaper and probably even quicker. But here obviously it appeared more important 'to show the flag' than [to follow considerations of economic expediency] and traditional secrecy in supplying arms.

"The Russian side informed the press on each plane's departure for Turkey laden with S-400 components, which practically never happens in implementing military-technical cooperation deals. The Turks eagerly participated in this publicity campaign by releasing footage of the arrival and unloading of the Russian military aircraftS-400 components. Aggressive PR is the basis of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's leadership style.

"In Moscow, they do not even try to hide that they are celebrating a victory over the US and NATO, which since September 2017, when the conclusion of the deal to supply Turkey with four S-400 divisions was officially announced, did a lot to mollify and persuade Erdogan and threatened him with sanctions to cancel the deal. The delivery to Turkey was possibly speeded up by re-directing the items earmarked for the Russian Air Defense after modifications were made for an export version of the finished product...

"In their dreams [in Moscow] they see an exasperated Turkey breaking ties with NATO on the analogy of France under Charles De Gaulle in 1966, and closing the US military bases on its territory. First of all [Russia would like to see] the strategic and most importan Incirlik air base near the Syrian border [shut down], where since the Cold War era American tactical nuclear weapons are stored and intended for the Turkish air force in case of a war with Russia. If this long-standing Russian dream comes true,– the Black Sea Bosporus and Dardanelles Straits… won't be controlled by NATO, but by the friendly, quasi-allied regime, of the independent of America Erdogan. Then the Black Sea will become a Russian inner lake…

"Moscow's geo-strategic goals are clear, but what is Erdogan seeking ? … Anti-American sentiments are quite strong in Turkish society: 80% think that the US threatens their country, while only 44% think that Russia threatens Turkey… The S-400 deal is approved by 45 % of general Turkish population, while even the oppositionl Republican people's party has supported it. Erdogan's popularity, given [Turkey's] economic-financial difficulties is declining, and an open conflict with Washington can help him. That aside, Erdogan is clearly counting that the US will not actually decide to impose really serious sanctions thus losing an important partner [as a result]…

"The White House indeed does not want to seriously punish Erdogan, yet Turkey is not going to get the F-35. Pentagon rejects this idea, while there are enough voices in Congress to block the supply whether Trump wants it or not. At the moment Turkey is balancing on the edge of national default – Erdogan has replaced the [Turkish] Central Bank's leadership and demands a lowering of interest rates under conditions of high inflation. Thus even the symbolic US sanctions against Turkey for the S-400 and EU [sanctions] for gas-drilling in Cyprus' exclusive economic zone could trigger the breakdown of the Turkish financial system and cause an economic collapse, which Erdogan won't survive. Then, I wonder who is going to pay for the debt on the S-400?

"… For Turkey Russia is no substitute for the West, neither economically, nor technologically. Besides, for Russia and Turkey formidable regional contradictions remain. Only [recently] on June 28, Turkish forces struck a massive blow at Syrian government forces in northwest Syria and decisively stopped an operation, prepared by the Russian command, in Idlib province that would have ended with the rout of the last armed opposition stronghold and effectively ended the civil war. In the Transcaucasus Ankara will also try its best to prevent Russia from expanding its influence in Azerbaijan and Georgia. In Moscow there are lots of influential anti-Turkish (anti-Erdogan groups) and people – including in the power structures. In our economy the number of 'Cypriot' [offshore] companies is much larger than Turkish companies. Thus, the pushback against further rapprochement with Turkey will increase everywhere, and this entire affair will probably end as usual."