Interfax, the Russian news agency, is reporting that Turkey is working on a deal with Russia to purchase more S-400 missiles. The news comes after President Trump spoke on Turkey’s behalf at the NATO summit and directed a Republican Senator to block condemnation of the Armenian genocide for a third time.
The Armenian genocide, where roughly one and a half million Armenians were slaughtered by the Turkish government, is denied by Turkey. Senator Ted Cruz, a former critic turned staunch ally of the President, was moved to offer criticism, pointing out that “(T)he effect of doing so is to deny recognition of this chilling moment of history.”
It is against the backdrop of this supplication, and the recent actions which cleared the way for the murder of thousands of Kurds at the hands of Turkey, that Turkey is seeking the new missile contract.
The concern about the missiles is not merely the purchase of the weaponry, it is the maintenance contracts which accompany the purchase. When acquiring the missiles – an initial shipment of which have already transferred from Russia, earlier this year – Turkey also pays for Russian technicians to maintain them.
Turkey, as a NATO ally, has many of the U.S. and EU nation defense systems installed. Their primary use is to guard against Russian aggression. Allowing Russian agents to operate in the same location opens the possibility of effective spying at the best of times; it is to be expected that these technicians will have trained observers among them, capable of providing key data like monitored frequency channels and equipment configurations. At the worst, it will open the door to direct theft and sabotage. In either case, it dramatically increases the Russian security threat to NATO nations.