Turkey could take delivery of the Russian-made S-400 Triumf anti-aircraft missile system as early as 2020, in a $2.5 billion deal between the two countries that is creating a rift within NATO.
Vladimir Kozhin, a Russian presidential aide for military cooperation, told the Rossiya 24 TV channel, “I think we will begin to fulfil [the deal with Turkey] sometime in early 2020,” TASS reported.
Kozhin said the weapon—an upgrade to the older S-300 system—would be delivered despite U.S. opposition to the deal. “As far as Turkey is concerned, we value the Turkish authorities’ position, as they have said many times that protecting national interests is their top priority.”
Turkey would be the second NATO member to field the weapon family, with Greece currently in negotiations to upgrade its existing S-300 system. The U.S. has threatened to impose economic sanctions on Turkey in a bid to dissuade Ankara from going ahead with the purchase.
However, Kozhin has said “the contract has been signed and will be implemented,” with four batteries expected to be delivered.
China has also bought the system and delivery began in January 2018.
The S-400 system, with the NATO codename SA-21 Growler, is made up of four different missiles with varying ranges and entered service in 2007. It can destroy aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles, and can also be used against ground targets. The longest range missile, which travels at Mach 15 (11,509 miles per hour) can engage targets at around 250 miles and at an altitude of over 98,000 feet.
The S-400 outclasses the U.S.’s primary anti-aircraft missile system: the MIM-104 Patriot. First introduced in 1984, the current iteration has a maximum range of approximately 43 miles, with a ceiling of just over 79,000 feet. The system also only supports one missile, compared to the S-400’s four.
Russia has deployed the S-400 to its Khmeimim air base and Tartus naval base in Syria. Although they are yet to launch any missiles, the deployment of the system was a marker of Russia’s commitment to the ongoing war.
Kozhin said that Russia’s Syrian deployment has allowed its military to test its newest weapons. “If you offer to have a look at models and booklets, it is one thing, but weapons tested during military activities is a totally different matter,” he said.
While U.S. fifth-generation fighter jets, such as the F-35 and its variants, have been designed with the S-400’s capabilities in mind, older U.S. warplanes like the F-16 and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet would struggle to slip through the system’s net.
Russia has already tested the planned upgrade to the system, the S-500. The weapon is expected to increase Russia’s anti-air defence range to around 373 miles and over 656,000 feet—high enough to hit objects in orbit. (Newsweek)
Russian war games held last September “simulated a large-scale military attack against Nato,” the Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces has…Russian war games held last September “simulated a large-scale military attack against Nato,” the Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces has claimed.
Riho Terras confirmed Nato’s fears the Zapad (or “West) exercises were used to simulate a conflict with the US-led alliance and show off Russia’s ability to mass large numbers of troops at extremely short notice in the event of a conflict.
The drills, which were held in Belarus, the Baltic Sea, western Russia and its Kaliningrad outpost between 14 and 20 September last year, depicted a fictional scenario concerned with attacks by militants, according to Russia’s defence ministry.
But in an interview with Germany’s top-selling newspaper, Bild, Mr Terras said: “Let me be clear: With the exercise Zapad 2017 Russia simulated a large-scale military attack against Nato.
“It was not targeted towards the Baltic states only as it was a theatre-wide series of exercises spanning from high North to the Black Sea.”
He added: “The scale and extent of the entire exercise was far greater than officially stated.”
Instead of being a “purely defensive” exercise as Russia claimed, Zapad was used to simulate a “full-scale conventional war against Nato in Europe,” the newspaper previously reported, citing two analysts from a western intelligence service.
They claimed the drills involved far more troops than the 12,700 Russia’s defence ministry claimed took part. Another 12,000 Russian soldiers took part in exercises in regions “near the Estonian borders” and more than 10,000 in the area near the north of Finland and Norway, the sources said.
Under the Vienna document, a Cold War-era treaty which sets out rules for military exercises, war games numbering more than 13,000 troops should be open to observers who can fly over the drills and talk to soldiers. Nato sent one expert to a visitor day in Russia and two to a visitor day in Belarus.
The intelligence analysts also told the paper the drill rehearsed a “shock campaign” against Nato countries such as Germany and the Netherlands, but also Poland and the non-Nato states of Sweden and Finland.
It practised “neutralising or taking under control air fields and harbours” in the Baltic states as well as simulating bombings of “critical infrastructure” such as “air fields, harbours, energy supplies” in western Europe.
“The number of troops participating in the exercises significantly exceeded the number announced before the exercise, the scenario was a different one and the geographical scope was larger than previously announced,” Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at the time. (The Independent)
“President Trump has made his wish known to work extensively with the elected president Macron to meet shared challenges. He also emphasized the long and strong tradition of cooperation between the US and its oldest ally, France,”.
Trump had congratulated Macron on Sunday in a tweet for his “big victory”.
According to his spokesman Sean Spicer, Trump on Monday also called the French president-elect to congratulate him. (BELGA)
MUNICH — Vice President Pence and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday offered dueling assessments of the troubled transatlantic relationship, as both praised NATO but Pence made no mention of the European Union, the key economic and political pact that binds Europe together.In back-to-back speeches at the Munich Security Conference, Merkel and Pence appeared to find common ground about NATO, whose members have been urged by President Trump to spend more on defense. But while Merkel praised the broader international organizations that have been a key part of the post-Cold War global order, Pence’s silence on the E.U. may only fuel fears among European allies that the new leadership in the White House will embrace only some aspects of European unity, while rejecting others.
On Sunday, Pence will travel to Brussels, where the E.U. will command more of his attention. On Monday, he will meet with senior E.U. leaders before returning home.
Pence offered a robust embrace of U.S. security commitments to Europe, seeking to tamp down speculation that Trump would pursue a new path that would abandon guarantees that European nations seem to feel they need to keep them safe from Russia.
“Today, tomorrow and every day hence, be confident that the United States is now and will always be your greatest ally,” Pence said. “Be assured: President Trump and the American people are fully devoted to our transatlantic union.”
Trump has repeatedly called NATO “obsolete,” but U.S. officials in Europe this week, including Pence and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, appear to be concentrating more on pushing allies to meet NATO defense spending commitments rather than focusing on Trump’s desire for a new relationship with the Kremlin, a major fear in Europe. Many European allies see Russia as a security threat following its 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.
Pence was critical of what he called the “Russian efforts to redraw international borders by force.” He called for quelling the conflict in Ukraine by adhering to the Minsk II agreement, a 2015 plan that sets out a road map for peace.
But — underscoring the beliefs of his boss, who many in Washington and Europe say has been too cozy toward Russia — Pence also sought to strike a balance, hinting at signs of a possible partnership between the two nations.
“And know this: The United States will continue to hold Russia accountable, even as we search for new common ground, which as you know, President Trump believes can be found,” Pence said.
The thorny issue of Russia has clouded Trump’s young presidency, amid reports that Michael Flynn, his national security adviser who resigned Monday, improperly discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador to the United States before Trump took office, and that Trump staffers and associates repeatedly communicated with senior Russian intelligence officials during the 2016 presidential campaign.
In a bid to reach out to the countries with the most at stake for any U.S.-Russian rapprochement, Pence is expected to meet Saturday with the leaders of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, as well as Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
In the 20-minute speech to the Munich gathering, Pence echoed Trump’s call for NATO countries to meet their full financial commitments to the alliance.
“Let me be clear on this point: The president of the United States expects our allies to keep their word, to fulfill this commitment, and for most, that means the time has come to do more,” Pence said — a line that was met with only light applause.
Only four NATO nations apart from the United States meet alliance guidelines to spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense, a trend Pence said was problematic.
“The promise to share the burden of our defense has gone unfulfilled for too many for too long and it erodes the very foundation of our alliance,” he said. “When even one ally fails to do their part, it undermines all of our ability to come to each other’s aid.”
Speaking immediately before Pence, Merkel sought to quiet rising voices in Europe that say that the continent should prepare to turn away from Trump’s United States and embrace partners such as China. She said that even as Europe strengthens its own defense capabilities, it will never be able to fight terrorism without the United States.
“The challenges of this world today cannot be mastered by one state alone. It needs a cooperative effort. We need to forge ahead with multilateral structures. We have to strengthen them,” Merkel said. “Let me address this very openly. The Europeans alone cannot cope with fighting international Islamist terrorism. We also need the support of the United States.”
But she also pushed for an approach that does not alienate Muslim allies, a fear that has spiked following Trump’s rhetoric about Muslims and his attempts to impose a travel ban on nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries.
“Cooperation with the United States is very important to us. But what’s also important to us is that Islamic states have been incorporated into this coalition,” she said, referring to efforts to combat the Islamic State.
“Only this way will we be able to convince people that it is not Islam that is the problem but a falsely understood Islam,” she said.
With Pence sitting in the audience, Merkel also reiterated her “respect” for a “free, independent press,” in response to a question from a German reporter, who asked her opinion on the quality of newspaper reporting in the United States.
While she did not address Trump directly, her comments offered a stark contrast to a recent tweet from Trump, in which he accused the “fake news” media of being “the enemy of the American people.”
Merkel said she supports “a free, independent press” and has “high respect for journalists,” adding that, in Germany, the relationship has always been one of “mutual respect.”