United States has been engaging in talks with the Turkish administration for dispatching advanced Russian-made S-400 anti-aircraft systems to Ukraine. Washington is also vouching for other nations to send S-300s and S-400s missile systems to Ukrainian forces for countering the fierce attacks by the invading Russian forces, at least three sources familiar with the development said, according to Ukrinform.
In a bid to avoid a direct confrontation with Russia, Washington has been debating deploying weaponry systems with other nations. Notably, Turkey had entered a defense deal with Russia in 2017 to procure S-400 missile defense systems worth $2.5 billion and had received the first batch of delivery in July 2019. Ankara purchased four Russian manufactured S-400 divisions. Washington had scrapped a deal with Turkey for F-35 jets over the purchase of these Russian missile defense systems and imposed CAATSA sanctions.
Ankara had later attempted to revive the deal with Washington by demanding Lockheed Martin-made Viper class F-16 fighter jets as it had already paid $1.4 billion to the US to upgrade its fleet with F-35 jets but they were never delivered. The US explained that the Russian air-defence system can gather intelligence on the American manufactured F35s’ crucial stealth abilities and had since installed the contract. Washington’s recent request of supplying Ukraine with Russian S-400 anti-aircraft systems puts Turkey in a vulnerable situation as the latter intends to procure American fighter aircraft but will also challenge its ally Moscow by supplying advanced Russian missile systems to Kyiv.
Russo-Turkey ties put to ‘test’
Turkey, also a NATO member, had earlier angered Russia by closing the Black Sea entrance to its warships to avoid an escalation of the war after a Japanese and one of its own cargo vessels was hit with a Russian missile. Warships would be blocked from accessing the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits, whether they come from countries “bordering the Black Sea or not”, Ankara’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had announced. “We are applying to the letter the provisions of the Montreux Convention,” he had said referring to the 1936 agreement that hands Ankara the control of key Black Sea straits for maintaining security and stability for more than seven decades.
The strategic document allows Turkey to manage war traffic entering the sea lanes during conflicts between nations that threaten to spill over globally. “We told Russia not to send these ships and Russia said the vessels would not cross the straits,” Turkish FM said, adding “nobody should be offended by this.”
Ankara’s supply of missile system to its neighbor under the request of the US risk worsening bilateral ties between Turkey and Moscow. President Vladimir Putin had earlier ranked the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan to convey “certain demands” for de-escalation which included that Ukraine should be neutral and not align with NATO. This request has already been conceded by Kyiv. The other is the disarmament process for Ukraine which Putin labels “de-Nazification” a term offensive to Jewish Zelensky whose relative laid lives during the World War Holocaust. Turkey agreed that both the requests shall be heeded by Ukraine, the third being a “face to face” meeting which the Ukrainian president appeared to also agree in a taped video recording as Russian troops advanced deeper into the urban cities.
Biden pledges a total of $2 billion in military aid
As the Ukrainian army struggled to detect the attacks by the Russian tanks, bombers, helicopters and missiles, President Zelenskyy appealed to Washington to supply anti-armor and anti-aircraft systems, and more weaponry to protect his country. His request came after Washington refused to declare a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
US President Joe Biden authorized the State Department to send an additional $800 million defense assistance to Ukraine over the top of $350 million in weapons that he pledged last month making it a total of $2 billion military aid. “We’re going to give Ukraine the arms to fight and defend themselves through all the difficult days ahead,” said US president Biden. The US has asked allies to send thousands of shoulder-fired antitank and antiaircraft weapons to besieged Ukraine. US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also met with officials from Slovakia, and the two allies agreed to deploy or to send or to give ground assistance to Kyiv. Biden also publicly labeled Russian President Vladimir Putin “a war criminal” to the reporters.