Russian S-400 deal is a matter of national security for Turkey
Ankara argues that the acquisition of Russian anti-aircraft missile systems S-400 is an urgent need to protect the country's airspace. The head of the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Mevlut Cavusoglu said this on Wednesday during the NATO Engages Forum, which was held in Brussels within the framework of the summit of the alliance.
Each country solves the problem of protecting its sky from the enemy military aircraft in different ways. The United States, as a rule, build up its military aviation. A similar situation can be traced in the NATO member countries, where the US insists on maintaining and putting into operation of the new airbases, while simultaneously overseeing facilities with a similar infrastructure in the post-Soviet space. This was the case during the Cold War when the German Ramstein airbase was particularly well known, and during the military operation in Afghanistan, the leadership of Uzbekistan provided invaluable assistance to America, allowing the landing and refueling of the military transport aircraft at the military airfield of Khanabad. Finally, the Airbase Injirlik remains the most important military base of the US Army in Turkey. An alternative defence option became the creation of an effective mobile system of the anti-aircraft missile systems, which was successfully adopted by Russia. Turkey as a member of NATO has a strong aviation group, capable of promptly responding to the possible airspace violations. Nevertheless, the Turkish military experts insist that the acquisition of the best antiaircraft systems becomes an urgent necessity.
Why does Turkey need Russian air defense systems? The country has a 1,300-km border with Syria and Iraq, the conflicts there are in an active phase, and in 2012, Syria even shot down a Turkish military aircraft. The complicated relations with Kurds that threaten Turkey's security also force the republic to react to the situation at the borders with Syria and Iraq. However, the Syrian Arab Republic does not have the modern military aircraft, and Iraq still resolves mainly domestic problems and also does not pose a threat to the Turkish sky. There remains a problem with the multiple Kurdish formations, which do not have their own aviation at all. They do not have a possibility to create it, since a reliable military base, protected from the enemy missiles, is needed for this. In other words, among the current threats to Turkey in fact, there is no force capable of threatening the invasion of the airspace of the republic, respectively, the issue of acquiring an S-400 is pragmatic. Turkey has its own army, its General Staff, and in case of the military aggression, the republic will be able to defend itself, without the help of the NATO top military officials. Therefore, despite the fact that the S-400 is incompatible with the NATO missile systems and is not a subject to the NATO restrictions, the disputes between the US and Turkey over the S-400 purchases are not perceived by Ankara as a threat to the partnership and cooperation within the bloc.
In the light of the unstable situation in the region, Turkey seeks to create a "zone of locked access" - to close its sky from any violations of the air border. It is no secret that during the civil war in Syria, the planes of the Middle East countries (Israel, Iran) mutually violated the airspace of Syria, especially as this practice takes place throughout the Middle East, and Turkey is well aware of this. The Russian S-400 will allow the republic to ‘protect’ its airspace legally, without fear of an international reaction if any military aircraft violating Turkey's air border is shot down. Moreover, the Turkish Air Force will not have to lift interceptors into the sky. Finally, due to the mobility of the S-400, the complexes can be placed on the border with Armenia, on the Aegean coast or on the border with Greece (anywhere on the territory of the country), which can not be done with the Western systems.
But there is one more reason, which Ankara, as a rule, does not articulate. It is a matter of a possible large-scale conflict between Iran and Israel, in which the United States is likely to support Israel and, if necessary, use the entire NATO military resource. For this reason, Turkey seeks to protect itself from a possible involvement in the conflict: if the Israeli planes attempt to strike Iran's nuclear facilities, Ankara will not allow the Israeli Air Force to fly over its territory, thereby demonstrating neutrality. Ankara does not need problems, especially in the light of the recent economic success associated with the commissioning of the Transanatolian gas corridor (TANAP).
At the same time, the purchase of the Russian S-400s indicates that the level of the mutual understanding between Turkey and Russia is at such a high level that the countries do not consider each other through a prism of a possible war. Moreover, it is not a secret for anyone that in the export version there is always a restriction to use the weapons against its creator.