Turkey said on Saturday there was no setback in its plan to buy Russian S-400 missile defence systems, despite U.S. opposition, and President Donald Trump expressed understanding for the decision but did not rule out sanctions in response. NATO allies Turkey and the United States have been at odds over Turkey’s decision to procure the S-400s, with the United States warning of sanctions if the deal goes through. Turkey has dismissed the warnings and said it would not back down, as already strained ties between the two countries have deteriorated further over the dispute. Speaking before talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Japan, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said the deal for the S-400s showed improving ties between Turkey and Russia. “Now, I believe eyes are on the delivery process of this issue, but there are no setbacks in our agreement,” Erdogan said, adding that it was a priority for Turkey that the deal includes joint production of the systems and a technology transfer. Erdogan also said it was important for Turkey to finish the first reactor in the Akkuyu nuclear power plant, its first nuclear plant, by 2023. He said non-nuclear equipment at the plant should be procured from Turkey. The plant is being built by Russia’s Rosatom at a cost of more than $20 billion. Buying military equipment from Russia leaves Turkey vulnerable to U.S. retribution under a 2017 law known as the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). The
NATO urged Russia on Tuesday to destroy a new missile before an August deadline and save a treaty that keeps land-based nuclear warheads out of Europe or face a more determined alliance response in the region. NATO defence ministers will discuss on Wednesday their next steps if Moscow keeps the missile system that the United States says would allow short-notice nuclear attacks on Europe and break the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). “We call on Russia to take the responsible path, but we have seen no indication that Russia intends to do so,” Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference. “We will need to respond,” Stoltenberg said. He declined to go into more details. But diplomats said defence ministers will consider more flights over Europe by U.S. warplanes capable of carrying nuclear warheads, more military training and the repositioning U.S. sea-based missiles. The United States and its NATO allies want Russia to destroy its 9M729/SSC-8 nuclear-capable cruise missile system, which Moscow has so far refused to do. It denies any violations of the INF treaty, accusing Washington of seeking an arms race. Without a deal, the United States has said it will withdraw from the INF treaty on Aug. 2, removing constraints on its own ability to develop nuclear-capable, medium-range missiles. The dispute has deepened a fissure in East-West ties that severely deteriorated after Russia’s seizure of Crimea and its involvement in Syria. “ALL OPTIONS ON TABLE” Russia warned on Monday of a stand-off comparable to the 1962 Cuban
NATO aims to recognize space as a domain of warfare this year, four senior diplomats said, partly to show U.S. President Donald Trump that the alliance is relevant and adapting to new threats after he signed off on the creation of a U.S. Space Force. The decision, set to be taken at a Dec. 3-4 leaders summit in London that Trump is due to attend, would formally acknowledge that battles can be waged not only on land, in the air, at sea and on computer networks, but also in space. “There’s agreement that we should make space a domain and the London summit is the best place to make it official,” said one senior NATO diplomat involved in the discussions, although cautioning that technical policy work was still under way. NATO diplomats deny the alliance would be on a war footing in space, but say declaring it a domain would begin a debate over whether NATO should eventually use space weapons that can shut down enemy missiles and air defenses or destroy satellites. The decision to declare space a new frontier for defense may help convince Trump that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization can be a useful ally in deterring China’s rise as a rival military power, the diplomats said. While NATO countries today own 65 percent of satellites in space, China envisions massive constellations of commercial satellites that can offer services ranging from high-speed internet for aircraft to tracking missiles and armed forces on the ground. China is developing
A new European Union military pact risks shutting American companies out of defence contracts and undermining NATO, the United States has told the bloc, hinting at possible retaliation. In a May 1 letter, the U.S. government said limitations on the involvement of non-EU countries under consideration in the European pact amounted to “poison pills”. “It is clear that similar reciprocally imposed U.S. restrictions would not be welcomed by our European partners and allies, and we would not relish having to consider them in the future,” said the letter from two U.S. Department of Defense undersecretaries, Ellen Lord and Andrea Thompson, to the EU’s foreign affairs chief, Federica Mogherini. Any rules limiting U.S. defence contractors’ participation would also amount to “a dramatic reversal of the last three decades of increased integration of the transatlantic defence sector,” said the letter, seen by Reuters. Mogherini said the American concerns over the EU accord – agreed in December 2017 and aiming to fund, develop and deploy armed forces together – were unfounded. “The European Union is and remains open to U.S. companies and equipment,” she told reporters on Tuesday, adding the European procurement market is more open than that of the United States, which is already dominant in the global weapons trade. EU defence ministers, who discussed the rules governing the pact on Tuesday, are trying to agree legislation by June on how to allow the involvement of non-EU countries, including Britain after it leaves the bloc and the United States. Dutch Defence Minister
“Next year is going to be extremely busy. Over 4,000 various types of drills and nearly 8,500 practical combat training events are scheduled. The main focus will be placed on applying expertise in the use of troops in today’s armed conflicts and training commanders to effectively address non-standard tasks,” the Russian defense minister was quoted by Tass news agency as saying.
Military forces from 31 countries began NATO’s largest exercise in decades, stretching from the Baltic Sea to Icelandy, practicing military maneuvers close to Russia, which itself held a huge military drill last month.
“Forces are in position, they are integrating and starting combat enhancement training for major battlefield operations over the next two weeks,” Colonel Eystein Kvarving at Norway’s Joint Headquarters told Reuters.
NATO allies are not likely to deploy more nuclear weapons in Europe in response to what the West says is a Russian breach of a nuclear arms control treaty that Washington is pulling out of, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday.
“I don’t foresee that European allies will deploy more nuclear weapons as a response,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference in his first public comments on the issue since U.S. President Donald Trump announced his intention to withdraw from the treaty.
“The main NATO countries are increasing their military presence in the region, near Russia’s borders,” Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, slamming “the sabre-rattling”.
“Such irresponsible actions are bound to lead to a destabilisation of the political situation in the North, to heighten tensions,” she said, vowing Moscow would “take the necessary retaliatory measures to ensure its security.”
Admiral James Foggo, the most senior US naval officer in Europe said: “We’ve seen creation of new classes of all sorts of submarines and ships. I’m more concerned with submarine warfare. Russians have produced the new Dolgorukiy-class submarine. They’ve produced the Severodvinsk-class submarine. They’ve produced the new Kilo hybrid-class submarines.”
U.S. ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison warheads warning: “At that point, we would be looking at the capability to take out a (Russian) missile that could hit any of our countries. Counter measures (by the United States) would be to take out the missiles that are in development by Russia in violation of the treaty. They are on notice.”