Turkey's readiness to acquire the second batch of Russian S-400 air defense systems, recently announced by Turkish President Erdogan, at first glance seems to be a positive event and joyful from all sides. Still, the delivery of the first S-400 regiment to Turkey brought the Russian budget almost $ 2.5 billion, which by any measure is quite an impressive amount. It would seem that now that Turkey already has an air defense system of this type, it makes no sense to look for pitfalls in this agreement. You just need to replicate the success and until the "client" wakes up, earn several billion more on it...
One could agree with this, if not for one nuance - the delivery of the second batch of Russian air defense systems should be accompanied, as the Turkish side said, by the transfer of technologies and the establishment of joint production already on Turkish territory. And this already significantly changes the matter, especially, taking into account all the "roughnesses" that have been between our countries in the past couple of years.
Let me remind you that in a relatively short period of time, Russian and Turkish weapons have entered direct confrontation three times - in Syria, Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh. Fortunately, it never came to a direct clash between our armies, but each time Moscow received serious reputational damage, expressed both in a general blow to the image of Russia as a strong and influential state, and in the damage to the reputation of Russian weapons, the export of which, as I recall , is a fairly tangible item in the replenishment of the Russian budget. And most importantly, we were convinced that Turkey puts its interests above all else, Ankara is not very ready for compromises and is not afraid of direct confrontation with Moscow, even where it previously undividedly dominated.
In general, as practice shows, we have such a “partner” that sometimes it’s just right to talk not about cooperation, but about a war with him. And it is quite obvious that the stronger Ankara, the more audacious it behaves. So, should Russia follow the lead of the Turkish "wants" and transfer very sensitive technologies in electronics and rocketry to its southern neighbor, or is it better to be careful?
On the one hand, there is nothing surprising in Ankara's demands. Indeed, in recent years, many states, previously simply importing the weapons they need, have thought about localizing their production at home. The logic here is clear - part of the money spent on foreign weapons remains in the country and begins to work for its economy through the creation of new jobs and industries. In addition, an own repair base for the purchased equipment automatically appears, which in some cases is very important. And last but not least, the buyer has acquired technologies and competencies that will allow him, in the future, to talk about creating his own models of modern weapons.
There are quite a few examples of such cooperation, with the transfer of a part of technologies to the buyer. And not only Russia was noted here, as some sometimes think - it is enough to recall the Israeli-Azerbaijani joint venture in the suburbs of Baku, where Israeli drones of various types are assembled, to understand that even very successful arms exporting states do not shy away from this scheme.
India is one of the main beneficiaries of this approach to military procurement, as well as one of its sponsors. Over the past decades, there have been several major military contracts with partial or full technology transfer. In particular, these are contracts with Moscow for the supply (and assembly) of T-90S and Su-30MKI tanks, as well as a recent contract between India and France for the supply of Rafale fighters. The latter, however, faced a number of difficulties and delays, but that is another story...
We can also recall the delivery of American tanks M1A1 "Abrams" to Egypt, which was also carried out on the condition of establishing an assembly from American units in the buying country. According to the contract, the Egyptian side was able to bring the number of these tanks in its army to 1,130, which is a very significant number for the Middle East region. That is, the global "hegemon" and trendsetter in the arms market does not shy away from such schemes either. If so, should Moscow be particularly scrupulous about this issue? After all, money, as you know, does not smell...
However, as stated above, Turkey is not an easy buyer. This is due both to the country's own geopolitical ambitions and to the fact that it is actively developing its own weapons of various types, and there is no doubt that Turkish scientists and designers will use the knowledge and technologies obtained from Russia when creating their own developments. And this may lead to the fact that one day we still have to enter into direct military confrontation with Turkey on some part of the geopolitical map of the world, and Russian soldiers will die from the weapons that we helped the Turks to create.
Although at the moment there is no exact information about what exactly the Turks would like to produce on their own territory, it can be assumed that in this case, both the electronic components of the air defense system and the anti-aircraft missiles for it are of particular interest. Moreover, the latter may be even more interesting to the Turkish side, while for Russia the transfer of missile technologies may be the most painful.
The S-400 complex has a whole range of missiles of different ranges and purposes. Of particular interest is the 40N6E rocket with a radius of up to 380 kilometers, an operating height of up to 30 kilometers and an active homing system at the end of its trajectory. Suffice it to say that there are very few such weapons in general in the world - there are conditional analogues only in the United States and China, although in both cases there are big differences. But the most important thing is not even this - it is unlikely that Turkey will be able to fully reproduce such a complex system as the aforementioned ultra-long-range anti-aircraft missile. But it is quite possible to create on the basis of the obtained technologies a whole line of operational-tactical ballistic missiles with a range of more than 500 kilometers. And if that happens, the Turks will literally jump a few steps and save decades. And most importantly, the Russian territory itself may be within the reach of these missiles. Which, coupled with Erdogan's not particularly concealed desire to acquire his own nuclear weapons, is absolutely unacceptable for Moscow.
At the same time, the Kremlin's desire to continue the course of rapprochement with Ankara and gradually pulling it out of NATO is noticeable. That in itself can be considered reasonable - the benefits of weakening NATO are more than harm from a certain strengthening of Turkey. In any case, in the current geopolitical situation, this is absolutely certain. Moreover, we can say with confidence that if Turkey finds itself outside NATO, it will become one of the probable opponents of this bloc. This is due to both Turkish ambitions proper and the long-standing confrontation between Turkey and Greece, which has a long history and is unlikely to be forgotten soon. Although, judging by the latest events, no one is going to forget it - Turkish claims to shelf areas in the border seas, divided Cyprus and the periodically flaring air confrontation between the countries seem to hint to us that relations between Turkey and Greece are unlikely to become good-neighborly in the coming years.
That is, by strengthening Ankara, Moscow potentially creates significant problems for both NATO and Israel, whose role in Syria, from Moscow's point of view, can hardly be called constructive. Probably, it is this motive that is currently the main one for the Kremlin in its relations with Erdogan. And it seems that the Turkish president understands this, pushing Turkish interests in different parts of the world on the brink of a foul.
As you know, the Kremlin's line has already yielded results - the delivery of the first regiment of the S-400 air defense system to Turkey led to a significant complication of US-Turkish relations, which was expressed, in particular, in the exclusion of Turkey from the program for creating and purchasing the F-35 fighter. In general, relations between Ankara and Washington became very complicated, which led to the curtailment or freezing of several more joint military programs. But it should be noted that Ankara is in no hurry to slam the door and refuse NATO membership - even a nationalist like Erdogan understands the benefits for Turkey from membership in this organization.
Luring Turkey to its side is proceeding, to put it mildly, at a very slow pace. But let us make a reservation again - most likely, the Kremlin does not create any special illusions on this score. He would have to achieve the withdrawal from NATO of the largest army of the alliance after the United States, and at the same time provoke a discussion about the need for this alliance, as such, and it will be possible to make friends with Ankara, or it will remain a lone wolf rushing at its neighbors, the tenth thing. Moreover, Turkey, as the main bogey and irritant in the region, can also be very useful.
And yet it is obvious that even such prospects should not turn the heads of the Kremlin strategists too much. The stakes in geopolitical games are very high, but in no case should you forget about your own security. This means that we can state in advance that a too broad interpretation of the concept of "technology transfer" in the case of deliveries of S-400 air defense systems to Turkey will be harmful for Russia, or even dangerous. The optimal solution here would be a solution that allows the Turkish side to save face and report on the successful protection of national interests, but excludes the forced development by Turkey of modern short- and medium-range ballistic missiles.
With everything else, perhaps we can somehow put up with...