Sanctions against Turkey begin to consolidate

The US CAATSA sanctions on Turkey’s defense industry are now official. The costs to Turkey of its S-400 deal with Russia have been enormous, both strategically and economically. Those costs will continue to increase exponentially and push Turkey further into the Russian orbit.

Por: Burak Bekdil

Just three days after Turkey’s Islamist strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan sighed in relief for having circumvented heavy European sanctions, he was slapped with heavy US sanctions. In this three-cushion game, Turkey is the loser, Russia is the winner and the West is about to break even.

At a summit on December 10-11, EU leaders they agreed impose light sanctions on an unspecified number of Turkish officials and entities involved in gas drilling in disputed Mediterranean waters. They deferred tougher sanctions, such as trade tariffs or an arms embargo, until after consulting with the incoming Biden administration.

But on December 14, the United States ad that it would impose sanctions on Turkey through the Counter-American Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) for the purchase of the Russian-made S-400 long-range missile defense system. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US would ban all export licenses and authorizations for Turkey’s defense procurement agency (SSB in its Turkish acronym) while issuing asset restrictions and visas against the SSB president. , Ismail Demir, and other officials from the Turkish defense industry. “Despite our warnings, Turkey went ahead with the purchase and testing of the S-400 system from Russia. Today’s sanctions against Turkey’s SSB demonstrate that the US will fully implement #CAATSA. We will not tolerate significant transactions with the Russian defense sector, ”Pompeo tweeted.

This is not the only price Ankara will have to pay for Erdogan’s Russian romance. Turkey has paid $ 2.5 billion for a defense system that it will probably never use. During the summer, Turkey did an activation test of the S-400 system and then repackaged it. Quite an expensive device to put back in the box.

Additionally, the acquisition of the S-400 has cost Turkey its partnership in the US-led multinational Joint Strike Fighter program, which is building the next-generation F-35 fighter, the Lightning II.

Turkey’s dismissal from the program will cost its own defense industry around $ 10 billion over the next 10 years. The dismissal also deprives the Turkish Air Force of a strategic firepower asset. To add insult to injury, the F-35s denied to Turkey now go to the air force of its rival, Greece. “US welcomes Greece’s interest in purchasing F-35 fighter jets ‘at the highest level’,” said the United States Ambassador in Athens, Geoffrey Pyatt. Greece wants to buy between 18 and 24 F-35s used or new.

And that’s not all. The CAATSA against Turkey includes “all export licenses”, which means that Turkey will not be able to export any weapon systems to third countries if these systems include parts made in the United States. The Turkish helicopter gunship is a good example.

In 2018, Turkish aerospace power TAI signed a $ 1.5 billion contract to sell a batch of 30 T129 attack helicopters to Pakistan. But there was a inconvenient , which has now been formalized. The T129 is a twin-engine multi-role attack helicopter produced under license from the Italian-British company Agusta Westland. It is powered by two LHTEC T800-4A turboshaft engines. The T800-4A is an export version of the CTS800 engine. LHTEC, the engine manufacturer, is a joint venture between the American company Honeywell and the British company Rolls-Royce.

Therefore, US sanctions have officially ended the $ 1.5 billion deal between Turkey and Pakistan.

F35 plane

“The people of Turkey remain our friend. But his leadership has chosen to abandon thousands of F-35 jobs, which will dry up once manufacturing stops in 2022, and invite sanctions to an already struggling economy. It didn’t have to be this way. However, the Turkish leadership is pushing forward and earlier this year they reportedly tested the Russian missile defense system ”, they wrote US Senators Lindsey Graham and James Lankford at the Wall Street Journal . “The United States has an obligation to protect American interests from threats from Iran, Russia and North Korea. Turkey must understand the consequences of its decisions. “

Another strategic Turkish defense program is the production of the country’s first indigenous main battle tank, the Altay. The next-generation tank would have been powered by a German-made engine and transmission had Turkey not been embargoed by Germany. Endless rounds of talks with other Western manufacturers have failed. Turkey’s defense procurement officials they appealed recently to South Korea in search of a solution that can save the Altay program, which is already burdened by significant delays.

Earlier this year, the Canadian government export suspended of key drone parts to Turkey. High-tech sensors and guidance technology produced by L3Harris WESCAM, an Ontario-based company, were used in Turkey’s best armed drones, the Bayraktar TB2. The Turkish military has been using TB2 successfully in its fight against Kurdish militants within Turkey, as well as in northern Iraq and northern Syria, and the drone has been used in support of a fighting side in the Libyan civil war. More recently, there were reports that TB2s were used by the Azerbaijani army in the armed conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh.

But Erdogan refuses to acknowledge his mistakes or failures. In 2019, when the threat of US sanctions was very clear, Erdogan said that, in addition to the acquisition of the S-400, Turkey and Russia would jointly produce the S-500, an advanced version of the air defense system. “There will be a joint production of the S-500 after the S-400,” he told an audience in May 2019.

In August 2020, Russia and Turkey they signed a contract for the delivery of the second batch of S-400. “The contract has been signed,” the TASS news agency reported, quoting Alexander Mikheyev, director of Russia’s state arms exporter Rosoboronexport.

As Putin should have guessed from the start, Western embargoes and sanctions on Turkey will likely push the NATO ally further into Moscow’s orbit, especially on defense acquisitions. This will pave the way for exploratory efforts to see what systems Russia can supply to Turkey and what (limited) degree of technology transfer it can allow. And why not? Turkey may become the first NATO ally to have Russian fighter jets in its fleet.

Date of publication: 10.301.2021
Source: Besa Center
Translation: Gastón Saidman

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