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05/20/2020

‘There is no turning back’: experts analyse Turkey’s S-400 activation postponements

‘There is no turning back’: experts analyse Turkey’s S-400 activation postponements

Recently, the S-400 Air Defense Systems Turkey ordered from Russia have become a hot topic of discussion once again. Allegations of postponement or even a total cancellation of the activation of these S-400s have been put up on the agenda, potentially in response to the serious crisis the purchase caused between the United States and Turkey. Some publications have claimed that the activation of the S-400s has been postponed due to the Coronavirus measures.

We have asked the experts about these allegations  and whether there is a possibility Turkey might back out after all:

‘S-400S ARE NOT ONLY A WEAPON, THEY ARE A STRATEGY’

Doğu Perinçek, the Chairman of the Vatan Party, replied to the claims that the “S-400s will be scrapped. Our money, which could have been used to fight the pandemic, has been wasted”.

Perinçek stated that S-400s were bought despite threats from the US and Israel: “A country without security cannot have an economy. The Turkish Armed Forces are determined to use the S-400s. The weapons they thought Turkey would not buy were bought, and they will be used too!”

Perinçek stated that claims are false and that the S-400s are going to be activated:

“These claims are very wrong and in no way realistic. I am following the issue closely. I am in contact with officials as well. The Turkish Armed forces are determined to use the S-400s. The resources allocated to this end have not been wasted. If Turkey is defeated in the Eastern Mediterranean or the South, it will completely collapse; therefore, the resources allocated for the S-400s will eventually serve the economy as well. A country without security cannot have an economy.”

“Moreover, the S-400s are not only weapons, they are a strategic preference. They provide for Turkey’s self-defense against the US. The threats to Turkey come from the US forces located at the East of Euphrates and Israel. Secondly, they come from the Eastern Mediterranean. The US, Israel, Greece and the Southern Cyprus Greek Administration have joined forces to carry out military drills against Turkey. There are agreements being made on the Black Sea in order to interrupt the Turkish Stream. We see the threats of the US and Israel everywhere we look at. Turkey is face to face with an obligation to arm itself against these threats. In this respect, the S-400s are a strategic preference. They show the determination of a Turkey ready to stand its ground.”

‘THE FIRST TRAINING PROGRAMS HAVE ALREADY BEEN COMPLETED’

In response to the allegations, Retired Air Force Pilot Major General Beyazıt Karataş said that: “It has been observed that backing out from the S-400 project is not possible.”

Karataş says that these reports are not based on verified official statements, he also added that “When desired and when personnel training has reached a sufficient level (and it is not difficult to predict when it will happen) the systems will be ready for deployment.”.

Karataş continued: “A significant portion of the S-400 personnel training has been completed for the systems to be activated and maintained. After the staff’s ‘First Combat Readiness Trainings’, the ‘Final Combat Readiness Trainings’ programs will continue. It should be clear that the training programs will not suddenly end at this point. As long as the S-400s remain within the Turkish Armed Forces’ inventory, programs will always carry on at various levels during its operational lifetime.

The official activation and combat readiness ceremonies of the S-400s will be delayed, but the fact that the First Combat Readiness Trainings of the S-400s are completed or near completion should not be overlooked.”

‘The S-400S ARE ALREADY ACTIVE’

ATA Platform Director Assoc. Professor Volkan Özdemir, who considers the S-400s to be a “geopolitical tool”, underlined that they are the result of the changing security perceptions and new paradigms. Özdemir gave a very clear answer to the question of whether or not the S-400s will be activated, saying: “the S-400s are already active”.

Özdemir stressed that the delay due to coronavirus is a political explanation for their activation. He said that an official statement announcing that “the S-400s are ready for war” might be postponed due to its potential political and economic consequences; he also said an official announcement is not critical.

Özdemir noted that the S-400s are now embraced by the public, and that there will be no turning back now. He also added that the Atlantic lobbyists who had long argued that the purchase would be aborted are now the same people saying that the purchased and delivered systems will be scrapped, despite that the S-400s have already completed radar tests with F-16 fighter jets in recent months.

 
Elif İlhamoğlu
Elif İlhamoğlu is political scientist and  journalist (Turkey). She is studying for PHD on the political science and international relations department at Istanbul University (Middle East studies). She visited Middle East countries, Syria, Lebanon, Iran several times and did interviews with the leaders as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hilal al-Hilal Secretary General of the Syrian Ba'ath Party.

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