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Turkey to buy anti-ballistic missile systems from both US and Russia


News Analysis |

Turkey is currently caught in the quagmire to opting between Russian S400 and the U.S made PATRIOT Anti-Ballistic Missile Defense Systems. While an order for the procurement and installation of former, by October 2019, is already planned, Turkey has not yet closed its negotiations window with the United States over price and transfer technology of PATRIOT missile system, which was Turkey’s first choice.

But, the excessive price quoted by the United States, followed by apprehension among the Turkish lawmakers that the bill could finally get vetoed by the U.S Congress over strategic overlapping of both countries’ strategic objectives pushed Erdogan to purchase Russian hardware. United States has made clear that if Turkey goes for S400, it will not be allowed to access the PATRIOT system.

Turkey has also initiated an offensive called “Operation Olive Branch” against YPG, the militant branch of Syrian Kurds who had defeated ISIS aided by U.S aerial support in previous years.

U.S Vice President Mike Pence, while speaking at a security conference in Munich, once again expressed the reservation which the United States has over the deal. He warned Turkey not to go ahead with the plan, as being a NATO ally of the United States, Turkey looking for options from traditional rival Russia will not play well for the relations of both countries in future. “We will not stand idly by while NATO allies purchase weapons from our adversaries. We cannot ensure the defense of the West if our allies grow dependent on the East.”

The United States had set the deadline for Turkey to come up with a final response regarding the matter by February 15th, but no decision was announced from the Turkish side. Last week, President Donald Trump signed a bill which blocks the transfer of F-35 Stealth Fighter Aircrafts to Turkey till November 1st, 2019 as the U.S wants Turkey to abandon the purchase.

Read more: Turkey to pay for Russian S-400s in rubles or lira: Erdogan

Pentagon, in its report to U.S Congress back in November 2018, had warned Turkey that it would be expunged to build and operate F-35 Stealth Fighter jet plus there would not be any sale of military hardware made from the U.S to Turkey in future. Turkey has been one of the pioneers of the research and development of Stealth Fighter program jointly with the United States and several other countries which kicked off back in the 1990s.

One of the major concerns which the United States has with Turkish procurement of S400 system is the issue of integration compatibility with the rest of NATO weaponry which Turkey possess. In this regard, a Turkish defense expert Murat Aslan has said, “The deal with the Russian government does not ban any further patch of software that Turkey can modify, in accordance with national and NATO standards. It is a vital issue not only for NATO but also for Turkish aviation assets. Hence redesigning the software of the system will completely make S-400 interoperable with the NATO systems.”

A Rough Patch in the Bilateral Relations

Both the United States of America and Turkey had to undergo a series of contentions which led to a further souring of relations between both the countries. Ankara has traditionally blamed Washington for its discriminatory attitude despite being a NATO ally, especially in terms of supplying the latest weaponry.

In his recent statement, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced that his country is moving forward with plans to buy S400 and will not be bullied to walk away from the deal.

After the failed coup, the relations between both countries saw the worst time when a pastor Andrew Brunson was detained on the charges of being the conspirator of the coup. It led to some of most fierce comments being hurled from both sides again one another. Other than that, U.S support for Kurdish fighters in Syria against ISIS also enraged Erdogan who believed them as terrorists.

Turkey has also initiated an offensive called “Operation Olive Branch” against YPG, the militant branch of Syrian Kurds who had defeated ISIS aided by U.S aerial support in previous years. All these issues eventually piled up to push both the allies in the opposite direction.

Read more: US approves $3.5 billion Patriot missile sale to Turkey

In his recent statement, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced that his country is moving forward with plans to buy S400 and will not be bullied to walk away from the deal. It indicates that in near future, both countries might witness a new round of tension.

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