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What happens in Ukraine between Turkey and Russia

What happens in Ukraine between Turkey and Russia

Giuseppe Gagliano's analysis

As already underlined in previous articles, the role that Turkey played in the Nagorno War was fundamental as evidenced by therecent resolution of the Turkish Council meeting which took place on 31 March.

In this context, the five member states (Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan) have decided to give the coalition a more meaningful name, namely that of "United States of the Turkish world" and have also decided to indicate in the Kazakh city of Türkistan the spiritual capital of the five-party alliance set up by the Turkish Council.

This means that the Turkish power projection also in this context is manifesting itself more and more clearly and it is a power projection that certainly contributes to containing and limiting the Russian one.

Another equally clear example of how Turkey is on the one hand cooperating with Russia but on the other also trying to limit its influence more and more is given by the cooperation it has established with Ukraine.

During his visit to Turkey on December 2, 2020, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kuleba Dmytro made no attempt to hide Kiev's expectations of Ankara. He said his country expects Ankara to take a "leadership role" in the Crimean conflict, underlining historical ties with Turkey, which was part of the Ottoman Empire until the 18th century.

The increasingly militarized relations between Ankara and Kiev inevitably lead Turkey to become more involved in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. With the aim of counterbalancing Russian supremacy in the Black Sea, Turkey has long sought to improve its relations with Ukraine, implementing a policy that was also in line with NATO's objectives of increasing its weight in the region of the Black Sea. Although Ankara did not allow the annexation to overturn Turkish-Russian cooperation in several fields, Turkey maintained its support for the return of Crimea to Ukraine.
The conflict was a catalyst for increasing defense ties between Ankara and Kiev. Some also see this cooperation as a way for Ankara to put pressure on Moscow in its own backyard as a retaliation for Russian efforts to downsize Turkey's role in the wars in Libya and Syria, where Ankara and Moscow support rival groups.

The foundations for advanced military collaboration between the two countries were laid by a series of military agreements in 2015 under the presidency of Petro Poroshenko, who was in favor of using military intervention to deal with Russian-backed separatists in the Donbass. Ukraine purchased six TB2 drones in 2018 along with three ground-based data terminals and 200 high-precision missiles under a $ 69 million contract.

Although Poroshenko's successor, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, advocated a political solution through dialogue with Russia, Kiev continued to promote military cooperation with Ankara, with a new set of military cooperation agreements signed between the two countries in the 2019 and 2020. The two countries signed a military and financial cooperation agreement on February 3 and a military framework agreement on October 16 during Zelenskii's visit to Turkey.

In November 2020, military chief Ruslan Khomchak announced that Kiev was considering purchasing five more Bayraktar drones in 2021. Kyiv has also supplied 12 AI-450T turboprop engines for Turkish Akinci drones over the past two years.

In addition, the Ukrainian state defense manufacturer and the Turkish drone manufacturer Baykar Makina, Akinci and Bayraktar, have decided to form a joint venture that will allow Ukraine to autonomously produce up to 48 Bayraktar TB2 combat drones. Many believe the project could help Turkey circumvent possible Western sanctions on arms sales.

The Ukrainian military first tested TB2 drones in Khmelnytsky against pro-Russian separatists in March 2019. Pro-Russian groups said at the time that the drones had been shelved due to technical complications. However, after their success in the conflicts in Libya, Syria and Karabakh, TB2 drones appear to be at the heart of Ukraine's military strategy. Indeed, the Turkish Air Force commander visited Kiev in early November to discuss ways to strengthen cooperation on TB2 drones and training drone operators with his Ukrainian counterparts.

On November 19, Ukraine sent TB2 to Kramatorsk Air Base for further testing. On November 27, the Ukrainian army conducted a military exercise near the Sea of ​​Azov to test the reconnaissance and targeting capabilities of the drones. Some reports indicate that the drones were also sent on reconnaissance flights near the Crimea on 23 November.

Up to now, albeit briefly, we have discussed the power politics that Turkey is carrying out but we have never stressed the role that the Turkish Brons play in making this power politics concrete.

These drones, described by Turkish think tanks as the embodiment of "a geopolitical turning point" or as heralds of "a completely new military doctrine never encountered in the world before", however, deserve a more cautious reassessment. They remain light aircraft with low payload capacity, ideal for ensuring a permanent presence in permissive theaters, but are extremely vulnerable to aviation and electronic warfare. The TB-2 drone's performance can best be explained by its integration into an alternate force structure – that of Kontreguerilla's Turkish model against the Kurds – in which it serves as a multiplier.

The TB-2s and, to a lesser extent, the Anka drones, would have been responsible during Operation Peace Spring, conducted in Idlib Reduced from February 25 to March 6, 2020, for most of the losses suffered by the Saudis. They also deserve the credit for the current reversal of the situation in Libya. These devices also appear to be capable of countering modern air defense systems such as the Russian-made Pantsir S-1 in Syria and Libya.

This success has been all the more remarkable given that Turkey is a relatively recent military drone operator that has hitherto had great difficulty acquiring, if not producing, these export systems limited by international treaties and the United States. .

The development of drones in Turkey is first and foremost a story of frustration at its foreign dependence in the fight against the Kurds. Developed nationwide at two speeds between the state company TAI (Turkish Arospace Industries) and a start-up led by an ambitious young man, Selcuk Bayraktar Ankara was in fact confronted in the 2000s with the American refusal to export its Reaper and Predator drones. and with the Israeli ill will that has accumulated the difficulties and delays in the delivery of the Herons drones ordered in 2006. In line with its policy of industrial sovereignty established in the 1970s with the American embargo linked to the Cyprus crisis, Turkey has ordered a MALE (Medium Altitude Long Endurance) category drone from TAI in 2004 which took nearly nine years to produce under the Anka name. It will not be deployed in operation until 2016 and will not carry out its first hits until Peace Spring in 2020. In parallel, the company Bayraktar Makina made its debut in the UAV market with the sale to the Turkish army in 2007 with a nano – Deployable micro-tactical drone, the Bayraktar B mini-UAV. Starting in 2014, it will result in the creation of a tactical drone, the TB-2, which was armed in 2015 and began its patrols in Eastern Anatolia in 2016 In 2017, the device was successfully paired with the T-129 Attack helicopter. In 2018, he carried out the targeted elimination of one of the leaders of the PKK, Ismail Ozden, near Mount Sinjar in Iraq. Today, analysts point out that Turkey has nearly a hundred.

Well, this current preponderance of TB-2 over Anka is not explained by intrinsically superior technical performance, but rather by the choice of optimizing an operational niche by exploiting proven technologies. Unlike TAI which had to produce a drone system equivalent to an American MQ-1 from scratch, Bayraktar focused on building a mature drone capable of responding to the immediate needs of the Turkish Kontrguerilla doctrine in Anatolia – doctrine based in part on the interoperability of regular and auxiliary forces – and it therefore appears logical that the device has accompanied its application to external operations in Syria since 2016 but also that it encounters limitations in the much larger theater that is Libya.

According to the United Nations, fifteen TB-2 would have been shot down for the year 2019 to which we must add at least eight aircraft for the year 2020. The TB-2 suffers from a too low speed (130 km / h), a load useful of only 55 kg and a range limited to 150 km. As such, the TB-2 probably represents only a transitional device for the Turkish forces to be quickly replaced with its future evolution, the Akinci developed in collaboration with the Ukrainian engine manufacturer Ukrspecexport for a total of twenty-four drones in 2021.

The announced features – reaching a range of 600 km, being able to navigate via satellite (SATCOM) carrying up to 1.3 tons of weapons – appear more as corrections than as a real change in the design or role of the apparatus. With no apparent speed boost, the Akinci should be the heavy version of the TB-2.

This flaw and lack of stealth could severely limit its combat potential and hence the claim of power Ankara intends to achieve.

This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Start Magazine at the URL https://www.startmag.it/mondo/che-cosa-succede-in-ucraina-fra-turchia-e-russia/ on Tue, 06 Apr 2021 06:29:17 +0000.