On October 24, local time, the Turkish Ministry of Defense stated that Turkey will use the S-400 as an independent weapon system and will not be included in the NATO command and control system, just like other NATO member states use the S-300. same. The statement implies that Greece, also a member of NATO, is also using the Russian S-300.
Just the day before, Turkish President Erdogan admitted that Turkey has tested the S-400 air defense missile, and said that the test does not require the consent of the United States, and then mentioned Greece: “Look, Greece still has S-300, don’t Said it was tested, they are using it, did the United States say anything? No.”
The United States has always opposed Turkey’s purchase of Russia’s S-400, and said that if the system is enabled, it will sanction Turkey.
Last Friday, October 16, many media reported that Turkey tested the S-400 air defense missile in Sinop, a coastal province in the Black Sea.
Deliberately low-key test fire
Erdogan admitted that a week has passed since the test launch of S-400 in Turkey on the 16th. Before Erdogan and the Ministry of Defense expressed their views, Turkish officials have kept a low profile on the matter.
On the 5th of this month, NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg visited Turkey and expressed concern about Turkey’s purchase of the S-400 air defense missile system, saying that this system is not compatible with NATO’s defense system and will pose a threat to allies’ aircraft. , It may also lead to US sanctions. It now appears that Stoltenberg was probably already aware of Turkey’s plan to test fire and “warned” Turkey during his visit. Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu said at the time that the S-400 was purchased for national defense.
Ten days before the test, on October 6, the Turkish news agency IHA reported that Turkey had delivered the S-400 air defense missile system to the Black Sea city of Sinop. The military vehicle carrying S-400 departed from Ankara towards Sinop. Others took photos and videos of military vehicles passing by. However, when the S-400 arrived at the destination, Turkish officials did not issue any statement explaining the matter.
Before the test, Turkey issued a Notice of Navigation (NOTAM) stating that a radar test will be conducted near Sinop on October 16. There may be live ammunition for six hours. It is recommended that aircraft avoid airspace below 61,000 meters in this area. . This announcement, combined with previous signs, made many media speculate that Turkey will test the S-400 here.
On October 16, some people in Sinop took videos and pictures of suspected missile test launches. In the video, the missiles can be seen flying across the sky and leaving white smoke. Uğur Giresun, chairman of the Justice and Development Party of Sinop Province, also posted a video on his social media that day. The video showed a close-up shot of a missile launching into the sky. Gilesson stated that despite various oppositions and the threat of an arms embargo, the S-400 was tested in Sinop.
On the day of the test launch, despite the overwhelming media reports, the Turkish Ministry of Defense still did not have any response or statement.
The test shot was successful? Still failed? Not sure yet. A Russian website analyzed videos taken by local residents and stated that the missile tested by Turkey did not hit any targets. According to the website, the missile can be seen launching, flying across the sky and leaving white smoke in the video, but it has not seen hitting the target. The website also quoted experts as saying that the S-400 system can only be tested with missiles or fighter jets, not small drones. Many media said that the target of the Turkish test was a drone drone produced in the UK.
In this regard, the Turkish national television station TRT immediately came out to clarify, saying that the Russian website only relied on an amateur video to judge that the test failed, which was very unprofessional. TRT also said that some media are launching a public opinion war against Turkey through false news.
After Erdogan admitted to the test launch on the 23rd, the US Department of Defense spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman issued a statement condemning it on the same day: “The US Department of Defense condemns Turkey in the strongest way for testing the S-400 air defense missile on October 16. System.” The statement also said: “We have clearly and unswervingly stated our position: Turkey’s operation of the S-400 system is inconsistent with its commitments as an ally of the United States and a member of NATO.”
In fact, as early as the 16th foreign media broke the Turkish test firing of the S-400, the United States has already responded.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Ortagus said that the United States has indicated to the Turkish government that receiving the S-400 system is unacceptable, and the United States has clearly expressed its expectations that S-400 cannot be used.
Republican Jim Risch, chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called the test an “unacceptable behavior” as an ally of NATO. He said: “U.S. law requires sanctions on countries that continue to deepen cooperation with Russian defense. The U.S. government must send a clear signal that Turkey must abandon the S-400.”
What if Biden is elected?
Now that the U.S. election campaign is in full swing, it is still unclear who will win the presidency. So will Trump and Biden have different attitudes towards Turkey’s test launch and even the activation of the S-400 system?
Trump has been turning a blind eye to Turkey’s purchase of S-400. Since Turkey started receiving S-400 air defense missiles from Russia last year, Trump has not sanctioned Turkey in accordance with the “Counter-U.S. Enemies Act with Sanctions” (CAATSA).
If Biden is elected, it may be another scene.
In August this year, a video circulated in which Biden hinted to reporters from The New York Times that he would support the Turkish opposition and encourage them to “beat Erdogan” through elections. In addition, Biden did not stand with the Turkish government on many issues. He once said that Turkey should stop its provocative actions against Greece in the Mediterranean region, called for the restoration of the Hagia Sophia Mosque into a museum, and asked Turkey not to interfere in the Naka conflict. It seems that after Biden takes power, it seems likely to take tougher measures against the Turkish government.
However, Murat Önsoy, an international relations scholar at Hajitepe University in Turkey, said that if Biden is indeed elected president, his attitude towards Turkey may be different. He will have a team of foreign policy advisors who will consider the country’s policies from the perspective of US national interests. Turkey is an important member of NATO, and the United States does not want to see Turkey leave NATO and turn to Russia.
Turkey originally planned to use the S-400 in April this year, but it has not been used in October. It is still unknown when it will be activated. On the 24th, the Turkish Ministry of National Defense stated that the S-400 will be used as an independent weapon system and will not be included in the NATO command and control system. It is not difficult to see from this statement that Turkey plans to use S-400. Regardless of whether it is Biden or Trump as president, as long as Turkey uses the S-400, the relationship between Turkey and the United States will face challenges.