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Yesterday, Sergei Chemezov, head of Russian state conglomerate Rostec, announced that Russia will supply four S-400 missile batteries for $2.5 billion to Turkey.

This seems bizarre for a number of reasons.

  1. Turkey is a NATO country
  2. Russo-Turkish relations were at all times low not too long ago when Turkey shot down a Russian jet. But it must be noted that recently, Russia and Turkey have steadily improved their relations which has seen Turkey bypassing their Western allies on Syria and making separate negotiations with Russia and Iran.

What political goals is Russia trying to achieve by selling S400s to the Turks? Are they trying to get Turkey to drift further towards Russo-Chinese camp? How can they be so sure that a piece of their latest weaponry won't fall into the hands of Americans? Or is Erdogan trying to be a modern day Marshal Tito by cultivating favorable relations with both the West and the Russians?

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    because of 2.5 billion reasons – user4012 Dec 28 '17 at 16:32
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    What's a good way of saying sorry for supporting the losing side when you'd rather fight the Kurds? Here's my cheque. – David M Dec 29 '17 at 0:11
  • Because Turkey doesn't trust NATO countries and Russia probably know that. It is highly doubtful Turkey support any NATO ally in a war. Besides NATO allies doesn't sell weapons to Turkey. japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/09/19/world/… – user16265 Mar 7 '18 at 7:43
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    It seems there will be no S-400 in Turkey. U.S. State Department clears $3.5 billion sale of Patriot missiles to Turkey. – bytebuster Dec 19 '18 at 10:19
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    @bytebuster: or maybe there still will be: "Turkey says S-400 purchase from Russia a 'done deal,' cannot be canceled", April 2019. – Fizz May 25 at 19:10
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As you note, the Turkish Government and the Russian have improved relations, and unlike previous Turkish leaders, Erdogan has not made closer relationships with "the West" through, for example, EU membership a central part of his foreign policy. So the Turkish government is well disposed towards Russia. I'm sure that Erdogan trying to position himself at the centre, and seeking benefits to Turkey and himself where ever they can be found.

And the cold war is over. Russia is a political and economic opponent of the USA, it is not an enemy in war. And the S400 is not so key to Russian defence that "falling into the hands of the Americans" is a threat to Russia. The American army probably knows all about the missile already

So it is likely that the reason is in your first paragraph: "Russia will supply four S-400 missile batteries for $2.5 billion to Turkey." It's hard to argue with two and a half billion dollars.

  • The interesting part, I think, is that both seem to agree that Syria will be peaceful by the delivery date, because they are currently standing on opposing sides of the civil war. I very much doubt Russia would sell weapon systems to Turkey if they feared Turkey would use them to shoot down russian air crafts. – janh Dec 28 '17 at 10:20
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    @NSNoob I wouldn't go so far as to say "no political motives". Russia needs all the allies it can get. Turkey is (sort of) a Russian ally. Turkey also benefits from a lot of Russian tourism. The two nations have reasons to make amends, even with the shooting down of a Russian Plane. Erdogan doesn't like Assad at all, and he doesn't like Russia's support of him. He wanted to make a statement, but even so, both Russia and Turkey benefit from some level of allegiance between them. – userLTK Dec 31 '17 at 9:53
  • And the cold war is over is it? I'm no expert at all, but I heard that new cold war is economic war? – llamerr Dec 19 '18 at 22:30
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Yesterday, Sergei Chemezov, head of Russian state conglomerate Rostec, announced that Russia will supply four S-400 missile batteries for $2.5 billion to Turkey.

Incorrect narrative.

Turkey first requested the sale. Then Russia agreed. So, it should be "Turkey is purchasing" rather than "Russian is supplying."

This seems bizarre for a number of reasons.

  • Turkey is a NATO country

Why should that be an issue?

Greece already operates Russian S-300.

  • Russo-Turkish relations were at all times low not too long ago when Turkey shot down a Russian jet. But it must be noted that recently, Russia and Turkey have steadily improved their relations which has seen Turkey bypassing their Western allies on Syria and making separate negotiations with Russia and Iran.

Turkey already paid the compensation for the downed jet for two reasons:

  1. to improve the broken tie with Russia as Turkey is one of the largest exporter to Russia.
  2. Russia and Turkey are cooperating together in the Syrian war, as the USA is helping Kurdish guerrilla groups which Turkey considers as terrorists.

What political goals is Russia trying to achieve by selling S400s to the Turks? > Are they trying to get Turkey to drift further towards Russo-Chinese camp?

Yes, that is correct. Russia is trying to seduce Turkey to make NATO weaker. You have to remember that Turkey has the 2nd largest military in NATO only second to the USA.

How can they be so sure that a piece of their latest weaponry won't fall into the hands of Americans?

They actually don't care for two reasons:

  1. They think that S-400 technology is impossible to copy.
  2. Chinese think that copying S-400 is not a viable option.
  3. They are already working on a more advanced version S-500.

Or is Erdogan trying to be a modern-day Marshal Tito by cultivating favorable relations with both the West and the Russians?

Nope. Turkey is just trying to accumulate a variety of ballistic misslile defense systems technologies.

  1. They are in contract with France and Italy to build a brand new ABM system.
  2. They are in talks with the USA to purchase Partiots.
  3. They also have their own missile defense program.
  • Good answer. Have to ask though, Why are you suggesting that it's "false narrative" to state that Sergei Chemezov did announce the sale? I never implied Turkey did not approach Russia for the deal first? As to why NATO matters, S400 isn't compatible with NATO defense grids, – NSNoob Mar 30 '18 at 15:39
  • @NSNoob, It would be Turkey is purchasing rather than Russian is supplying. – user17569 Mar 30 '18 at 16:24
  • @NSNoob, As to why NATO matters, S400 isn't compatible with NATO defense grids --- this is largely politics. There is a very little option for Turkey to share NATO military data with Russia, especially if they want to keep their membership. – user17569 Mar 30 '18 at 16:28
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I was reading old news today and I stumbled upon a direct statement from the Turkish Government. Earlier this month, Turkish FM Mevlut Cavusoglu implied that Ankara’s decision to purchase Russian S-400 air-defense systems was prompted by the reluctance of its NATO allies, primarily the US, to sell advanced weaponry to Turkey. Speaking to German news outlet Zeit, in response to the question on why did Turkey purchase Russian system which isn't compatible with NATO systems, Mr. Cavusoglu said:

(Original): Wir brauchten das dringend, weil wir kein Luftabwehrsystem hatten. Wir hatten in den USA sogar das Problem, einfache Gewehre zu kaufen wegen Bedenken im US-Kongress. Wir mussten von irgendjemandem kaufen. Wenn die US-Regierung garantieren kann, dass der Kongress es zulässt, werden wir ihre Patriot-Systeme kaufen.

(English): We needed it urgently because we did not have an air defense system. We even had troubles with buying simple rifles from the US due to concerns of the Congress. We had to buy it from someone. If the US government can guarantee that Congress will allow it, we will buy their Patriot systems.

So that tells us that Turkey's purchase was motivated solely because US won't sell them the weapons they wanted so they looked around and saw a willing supplier in Russia. James' answer deals with why Russia would supply Turkey with S400s. I think this answer gives us an insight into what are Erdogan's reasons.

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NATO and the Russian Federation are not at war. There is no restrictions on who NATO-member states can purchase arms from.

Until Russian Federation's aggression in Georgia, there was also essentially no restrictions on what types of arms NATO-member states could sell to the Russian Federation. France, for example, was in the process of building an aircraft carrier which was to be sold to Russia.

This should clear up whether it is prohibited for a NATO member to buy Russian arms.

The other two issues which would influence this decision would be what is Russia's incentive in making the sale and what is Turkey's incentive.

Russian Federation continues to see (or at least pretends to see) NATO as a continued challenge to Russia's regional influence. It could be trying to weaken member states' allegience to the alliance as a way to weaken NATO's relevance. Of course, getting paid for producing military equipment also serves to fund (and therefore support) Russia's own military industry.

Turkey's main benefit is asserting its sovereignty within the alliance. European states and the US made no secret that they are not fans of Erdogan's domestic assault on the rule of law. So a demonstration of the fact that Turkey "has options" can be a warning to leave it alone.

The other (even if ostensible) benefit, and that is how it is probably presented to the NATO allies, is that it assuages the harm done by the Turkey-Russia military incident in which a Russian military plane had to be shut down because it flew unresponsive in the Turkish airspace for 17 seconds. Should such an incident happen again, it would be more credible to see it as a misunderstanding if the equipment which shut it down was Russian-made rather than NATO-state-made.

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