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“Friendly” concessions – where will they lead

Recently, a trial of activists and veterans of the Crimean Tatar movement, who participated on July 10 and 11 this year in a picket on the Red Square in support of those involved in the Bakhchisarai “Hizb ut-Tahrir case”, took place in Moscow. The detainees were holding posters with the words “Our children are not terrorists” and “Stop the repressions”. Fevzi Abduramanov, Eskender Lumanov, Sinaver Nimetulayev, Reshat Emiruseinov, Siyar Gafarova, Evner Seitumerov and Seyran Jemilev are accused of “violation of the established order of the rally”. The detainees were fined 20 thousand rubles each.

Logically, this should worry Turkey, since its state authorities have long considered the native inhabitants of the Crimea not Crimean Tatars, but Crimean Tatar Turks. When the third anniversary of accession to Russia was celebrated in the Crimea, the Turkish Foreign Ministry made a statement supporting the territorial sovereignty of Ukraine and considered the current situation in the Crimea a violation of international law. In addition, the Turkish Foreign Ministry stated that Turkey continues to monitor the situation in the Crimea and protect the rights and interests of the Crimean Tatar Turks, which is one of the main components of the peninsula.

Similar statements by Ankara regarding peninsula affiliation are not new. The replacement of the term “Crimean Tatars” by “Crimean Tatar Turks” is in principle fundamental for the people themselves. But despite Russia’s disparaging treatment of the fraternal people, and despite the unmasked discontent of the US, the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues to negotiate and maintain trade relations with Russia. Back in 2017, he announced that he had signed a contract with Russia to supply the S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems, despite repeated warnings from the US on possible economic sanctions subject to a purchase – because according to NATO agreements, the alliance members should only buy those weapons and other tools that are compatible with other NATO partners. US Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison even stated that Turkey will not be allowed to participate in the F-35 high-tech fighter production program unless Turkey abandons its plans to acquire the Russian air defense system. The US sanctions foresee closure of NATO air bases on Turkish territory. According to the Turkish President, Trump should find a “middle ground” in this dispute between Washington and Ankara, and this should be in the interests of Turkey. The basis for such confidence was Trump’s words of support for Ankara and its decision to buy the S-400 in Russia. If Ankara is excluded from the F-35 program, Turkey will seek to recover the $ 1.25 billion already paid for the US fighter jets through the arbitration process.

The competition in the international arms market is high, and the leaders of this business have held firm for decades. But in this case, Russia has done everything to interest the Turkish side by offering it really economically attractive terms: a $ 2.5 billion deal, of which 55% is covered by a Russian loan. And the contract provides for “partial technology transfer” to Turkey. And this is where it should be noted that six years ago the Turks were discussing the purchase of the American system Patriot. It didn’t happen… the Turkish side didn’t agree with the price, and Washington refused to share the technology. Only after that Turkey started negotiations on missile defense systems with other countries. In 2015, there was another attempt, but the tender for the purchase of a long-range missile defense system was won by the Chinese. The amount of the deal is $ 3.4 billion, with the technology transfer to Turkey. The US response was negative and the tender was canceled. Later in Ankara there was an attempt of a military coup, such a benefit for Russia. Both sides are pleased at the moment: Russia is strengthening its position in the international arms market, and Turkey is demonstrating its independence from the US. Russia claims that this long-range and medium-range anti-aircraft missile system is capable of “effectively repelling the massive blows of all modern and advanced aerial attacks, including stealth aircraft under intense fire and radio-electronic counteraction.” These missiles have a vertical descent that allows them to fire at 360 degrees. In 2015 Russia deployed the S-400 at its base in Syria.

 It should be noted that Turkey is not the first foreign buyer of the S-400.  In 2015 China signed a $ 3 billion supply agreement for Triumph, and in October last year it became known that India would spend more than $ 5 billion to buy the S-400.

Currently, all US attempts to block the supply of S-400 to Turkey have failed, and the prospect of sanctions is unlikely to threaten Turkey. After all, despite the dubious reputation of the Russian Federation in the modern world and its disrespectful and ambiguous attitude towards some countries, peoples and nationalities, the proposals for the supply of Triumph remain too attractive for many countries to reject.

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Liya Sergiyenko
Liya Sergiyenko
Liya Sergiyenko is a journalist based in Ukraine.

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