The US Senate is considering the possibility of buying back the S-400 Triumph acquired by Turkey from the Russian Federation anti-aircraft missile systems (SAM). A corresponding amendment to the draft defense budget for fiscal year 2021 was proposed by Republican Senator John Thune.

The text of the amendment is posted on the Congress website. It involves the redemption of Ankara S-400 at the expense of the budget of the US Army for the acquisition of missile weapons.

“Subject to paragraph (b), the necessary amounts are allowed to be sent to the US Army budget for expenditures under“ Missile Procurement - Army ”for the purpose of acquiring S-400 air defense systems,” the document says.

At the same time, in paragraph (b), it is noted that in order to issue a permit for the purchase of S-400 air defense systems “it is required that the Secretary of Defense and the US Secretary of State receive confirmation from the Turkish government that the proceeds from the sale will not be used to purchase or otherwise acquire military equipment that the US considers incompatible with NATO. "

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  • © Zach Gibson

At the same time, Republican Jim Richard, chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, proposed an amendment requiring the White House to impose restrictions against Turkey in accordance with the CAATSA, Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.

According to Rish’s amendment, “no later than 30 days from the date this law enters into force, the president is required by section 231 of the CAATSA (Section 9525 section 22 of the U.S. Code of Laws) to impose 5 or more sanctions specified in section 235 of the same law ( §9529 of section 22 of the US Code of Law), in respect of each person who deliberately participated in the acquisition of S-400 air defense systems from the Russian Federation. ”

According to RT analysts interviewed, both proposed amendments were a reaction to the crisis in relations between the US and Turkey that arose after Ankara acquired the Russian S-400 air defense systems in spite of protests from Washington. 

Collaboration Against Pressure

Russia and Turkey signed a contract for the sale of Ankara S-400 in the amount of $ 2.5 billion in 2017. According to the terms of the agreement, Ankara pledged to pay in advance 45% of the total amount, and the remaining 55% of the Russian Federation provided as a loan. In the fall of 2019, Moscow ahead of schedule fulfilled its obligations to supply all components of an air defense system.

At the moment, as reportedHead of the Turkish Defense Industry Secretariat Ismail Demir, Ankara continues to deploy S-400 systems.

At the same time, Turkey’s intention to purchase the S-400 from the very beginning was extremely negatively received in Washington, experts recall. The US demanded to abandon the deal, threatening to otherwise impose sanctions against Ankara.

The United States motivated its reaction by the fact that due to the S-400 deployed in Turkey, Moscow would supposedly be able to gain access to the technical characteristics of the latest NATO aircraft. The US has suspended Turkey’s participation in the F-35 Lightning II fighter-bombers production and supply program.

Autumn 2019, Chairman of the Committee on Foreign RelationsUS Senate Jim Rich confirmed Washington’s stance on this issue: Ankara “does not see F-35 supplies” while its army is armed with Russian-made air defense systems.

It is worth noting that the draft law on budgetary appropriations for defense for fiscal year 2021 already contains a provision allowing the US military to use six F-35 Lightning II fighters previously made for Turkey, which were never delivered to Ankara.

At the same time, Turkey has repeatedly noted that US attempts to exert pressure on Ankara are futile. So, in December 2019, the Turkish Foreign Ministry announced that "the language of threats and sanctions will never convince Turkey to stop taking steps to ensure national security."

  • F-35 Lightning II
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  • © US Air Force photo / Randy Gon / Handout

Experts say that to date, the crisis in the relations of the two NATO allies has not been resolved: numerous negotiations have failed. In May 2020, US Special Representative for Syria and one of the leading American experts on relations with Turkey, James Jeffrey, said that Turkey’s acquisition of Russian air defense systems is the main problem in US-Turkish relations. At the same time, he noted that this topic is extremely important for the United States, as it relates to the F-35 - "the largest investment in the defense of the United States and its allies since World War II."

At the same time, despite pressure from Washington, Moscow and Ankara are negotiating to continue and deepen military partnerships.

So, in March 2020, the head of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSVTS) Dmitry Shugaev, in an interview with Russia-24 TV channel, said that Moscow and Ankara intend to sign a new contract for the supply of a regiment kit of the S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft missile system . The readiness of the Russian Federation to conclude a new deal was also confirmed by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov, who oversees military-industrial complex issues in the government.

In June of this year, Shugaev also said that Moscow was ready to discuss the prospects for the joint production of S-400 Triumph air defense systems with the Turkish side. At the same time, the head of the FSMTC emphasized that this process takes time and involves “a new stage of interaction - a more complex, trusting”.

“It will affect the image of Turkey itself”

The popularity of the S-400, which is even bought by US allies, has become a real “headache for Washington,” said Andrei Koshkin, an expert at the Association of Military Political Scientists.

“Clarification of relations between Turkey and the United States over the S-400 has become a precedent for the whole of NATO: a member of the alliance is armed with the weapons that are produced and are in service with the state against which all their systems are built in NATO. This leads to a very serious split: after all, Turkey is one of the most militarily powerful alliance states, ”the analyst said in an interview with RT.

  • Recep Tayyip Erdogan
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  • © Umit Bektas / File

According to him, Thune’s initiative is designed to “solve this issue with one blow,” however, she cannot fix the root of the problem, namely the superiority of the S-400 over its American counterparts.

“This idea stands out as a kind of peaceful, political solution to the issue. But even if this amendment is approved and the deal is completed, which is unlikely, the problem will not go away. The S-400 will continue to be better and more attractive. But NATO will still not have agreement, ”said Koshkin.

According to experts, Turkey is likely to refuse to sell the S-400, even if Thune’s amendment is approved and Washington makes a proposal. Analysts say that this step would spoil relations with Moscow, with which Ankara interacts on such important issues as the settlement in Syria and Libya. Equally important is the economic cooperation of the two countries. The Turkish leadership cannot afford to risk the progress made in these matters, political scientists are sure.

“This will primarily affect the image of Turkey itself as a geopolitical player. Everyone will see that she is backing away from her words, violating military-technical agreements, ”said Alexander Mikhailov, head of the Political and Political Analysis Bureau, in an interview with RT.

At the same time, he added that Turkey is not profitable to sacrifice cooperation with the Russian Federation in the military field for the supply of Patriot and F-35.

“Russia currently produces the most technologically advanced air defense systems. In the case of US sales, Ankara will not be able to rely more on our manufacturers, while Washington will politicize the sale of Patriot complexes, providing this issue with a large number of conditions, ”the analyst said.

Mikhailov also recalled that Turkey is militarily one of the key members of NATO, so the United States is unlikely to introduce the sanctions proposed by Rish and thereby further aggravate relations with it. Ankara understands this, and therefore does not succumb to the pressure of Washington.

“Turkey is one of the strongest NATO countries, they have a considerable military budget. In addition, Erdogan has a serious influence on the entire Middle East, on the European Union. Turkey has an important geographical position, controlling the passages on the Black and Mediterranean Seas. It is such a member of NATO with which NATO itself needs to agree on something. Therefore, I do not think that the US will try to drive Turkey into a corner in this matter, ”Mikhailov said.

The analyst believes that, most likely, the deal will not reach the negotiations between Washington and Ankara on the sale of S-400.

“This initiative of Thune itself gives away populism. There are doubts about her future. In any case, not for that, Turkey bought S-400 systems from Russia, conducted long and stubborn negotiations with Moscow, which probably touched on a wider range of issues than just selling air defense systems, so that then all of this would be crossed out for dubious benefits, ”Mikhailov concluded .