For decades, the American military engineers and manufacturing companies boasted having the highest technology and highest weapons quality in the world. While this was the common understanding, the US had little trouble with weapons sales to allied nations.
The “parallel” Soviet systems were usually well-regarded, but also easily ridiculed as being brute force implementations of power that were of vastly inferior quality and technology.
Now that has changed, and the Americans are in a different situation with their allies.
RT reports on 24 August that the US warned Turkey and other allies against buying the Russian-made s-400 anti missile system.
Once again warning Turkey against buying Russian S-400 air-defense systems, the US State Department has gone a step further, to virtually threaten all its NATO and other allies with sanctions should they consider similar deals.
Noting that the ahead-of-schedule S-400 deliveries to Turkey would be another “concern” for the US, the State Department’s Heather Nauert stressed that Washington rejects other nations’ plans to diversify their defense system supplies. Earlier this week Rosoboronexport confirmed that the first batch of launchers will be transferred to Ankara in 2019.
“It goes against our policy to have a NATO ally such as Turkey use an S-400 system. Part of the problem with that, it is – that it is not interoperable with other NATO systems,” Nauert said. “And so we are against the – having some of our partners and allies around the world potentially purchase S-400s.”
The spokeswoman noted that the US had already made it “very clear what could trigger sanctions for other countries and entities around the world,” if they go ahead with buying Russian systems. The so-called Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) mandates the US administration to punish entities engaging in significant transactions with Russia’s defense sector companies.
The new S-400 “Triumph” missile system is extremely capable, capable of engaging up to 80 targets simultaneously within a range of 400 kilometers (about 250 miles). This is presently rated by the Economist as one of the best air-defense systems currently in existence.
This is much more than just an issue of alliance loyalty. This is competition. The Americans have an extremely strong business competitor now in the area of weapons technology. This clearly is having an effect in Turkey, a NATO ally, and Turkish President Recip Erdogan appears to be trying to make choices in terms of what is best for his country’s defenses, rather than toeing the NATO alliance line.
This, incidentally, is another “marker” of the present-day irrelevance of NATO itself, since its inception was specifically aimed at countering the perceived threat of the Soviet Union during the years of the Cold War.
Former US diplomat Jim Jatras also noted this, as RT’s report goes on to say:
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over recent weeks repeatedly accused the White House of waging an economic war against the country, with the lira witnessing a massive drop against the dollar after the introduction of sanctions against Turkish steel and aluminum imports.
Ankara also repeatedly defended its sovereign right to buy weapons from any supplier it wants. The US, in turn, had been twisting Ankara’s arms, threatening to halt the delivery of F-35 stealth fighters, claiming Turkey’s human rights record wasn’t clean enough and that data collected by the S-400 may potentially expose the jets’ vulnerabilities.
The actual issue is not about interoperability between Russian and NATO systems, but about the US struggling to maintain its sphere of influence, former US diplomat Jim Jatras told RT.
“The problem with this is not really interoperability,” Jatras told RT. “There are many countries that procured military equipment from a number of different sources. We do not really have allies, we have satellites and a good satellite does what it is told. And if it does not want to behave like a good satellite then we pull out a big stick and threaten them. I think ‘sanctions-happy’ is exactly the right word [to describe coercive US policies],” Jatras stressed.
Turkey is not the only country that is being pressured by Washington because of plans to purchase Russia’s S-400. US lawmakers have been threatening sanctions against India if New Delhi goes ahead with the $5.7bn deal to purchase five units. India, just like Turkey, remains committed to its deal, which is expected to be announced by the end of the year.