‘Are you with us or with terrorists?’ Erdogan lashes out at NATO allies for failure to back Turkey’s Syria op

Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan is enraged that NATO members are not supporting Ankara’s incursion into neighboring Syria, to target local Kurdish militias, arguing that in doing so they are siding with terrorists.

Ankara has been subjected to diplomatic and economic pressure by fellow NATO members, including Germany, France, and the UK, following its decision to launch a military operation in northeastern Syria last week. An arms sales embargo and other measures are on the table over what Turkey touts as a legitimate counterterrorist campaign.

Erdogan on Monday criticized a lack of support from nations that are supposed to be allies under NATO. “According to Article 5 of the NATO treaty, which side should they take? They need to stand by us,” he told reporters, referring to the cornerstone of the agreement that says a military attack on one member is an attack on all of them.

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Erdogan said some people in Turkey thought the mistreatment was due to the fact that their nation is the only Muslim-majority NATO ally. He chose to believe that European leaders were simply misinformed about what Ankara was doing, the president said. “I’ve seen that they, unfortunately, do not know many of the facts and are under the pressure of very serious disinformation,” he said.

Turkey’s Operation Spring of Peace targets Syrian Kurdish militias, which in Ankara’s eyes are nothing but an extension of its domestic Kurdish guerrillas. Supporters of the Kurds say they played a key part in defeating jihadist forces in the northeastern part of the country, with the US providing air and artillery support.

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Syrian army finds US-NATO arsenal in an Idlib cave

Damascus, Sep 26 (Prensa Latina) Syrian military found in a cave of Idlib rockets and machine guns from the US and NATO that had belonged to terrorist groups, a Syrian Army spokesman said on Thursday.

The cave was part of an extensive underground network for about 5,000 men and was near al-Latamna town, the spokesman said.

This network was established more than 4 years ago with the help of foreign machines and was a basis for launching attacks against government troops. Some time ago, the Syrian soldiers forced illegal armed groups to retreat from this region to the border with Turkey, when they withdrew, they dynamited the cave to 'leave no evidence,' he said.

'But evidence has remained. You can see what weapons they were using. We discovered rockets made in USA and machine guns manufactured in NATO countries,' the military spokesman said.

He also reported that the underground network had a workshop where drones were manufactured. 'They provided those drones with bombs and ammunition filled with destruction elements and attacked the civilian population and the Syrian Army positions with those devices,' he said.

Syria has been suffering a conflict since March m in which government forces are confronting armed opposition groups and terrorist factions.

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‘We don’t need aircraft carriers, we need weapons to sink them with’ – Russian defense minister

The US may have a military budget that far exceeds that of Russia, but it doesn’t matter since the Russian military is there to defend the country, not attack other nations, the Russian defense minister said.

Russia’s military budget received a hike a few years ago for a massive rearmament program, but has been rolled back in recent years. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimated Russia to be the world’s sixth biggest defense spender in 2018, behind the US, China, Saudi Arabia, India, and France. Meanwhile, the Pentagon has been showered with money under the Trump administration, dwarfing other nations’ military budgets.

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But the man in charge of the Russian Defense Ministry says his fellow Russians have no reasons to worry, because their taxpayer rubles are well spent.

“The US spends huge amounts of money on private military contractors, on aircraft carriers. Well, does Russia really need five to ten aircraft carrier strike groups, considering that we do not intend to attack anyone?” Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu told a Russian newspaper.

We need the means we could use against the enemy’s carrier strike groups should our country come under attack. They are far less costly and more efficient.

The minister also criticized Washington for its habit of justifying its military interventions throughout the world by the interests of the people living in the nations it targets.

“In which of the nations they went ‘to bring democracy’ did democracy flourish? Was that Iraq, Afghanistan or Syria?” Shoigu said. “And one certainly can forget about sovereignty and independence after American involvement.”

Also on rt.com Trump deploys reinforcements to Persian Gulf to defend ‘American oil’ & other assets, not US allies....

He added that the US doesn’t seem to be losing its appetite for ruining other nations, be it through military intervention or other means.

“Our Western colleagues love to accuse Russia of waging ‘hybrid wars’ or whatever. Well, I say [the] West is the one conducting actual hybrid warfare. The US now is about to leave Afghanistan in half-ruins and at the same time they work hard to stir things in Venezuela – all for the ‘triumph of democracy’ of course.”

The US tried this year to topple the Venezuelan government by supporting Juan Guaido, who declared himself interim president of the Latin American country. His pretendership, however, has not been that successful. His two attempts at triggering a large-scale public uprising and ousting President Nicolas Maduro fizzled despite Washington’s promise that it would lift crippling economic sanctions against Venezuela once their man takes control.

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NATO-linked pundits say Russia is set for 'regional war' in Europe, but do the facts back it up?

A pair of German pundits, including a retired top NATO officer, tried their best to warn the world about nuclear-weapons-wielding Russia, but it was in fact the West that did everything to threaten Moscow, experts told RT.

There's no shortage of expert pieces these days that sound the alarm over Russia's "assertive" policies, with the bulk of the fearmongering expertise coming from other side of the Atlantic. This time though, two Germans, Joachim Krause, the head of the Institute for Security Policy, and retired three-star general Heinrich Brauss, took over the lead.

According to a bizarre Die Welt op-ed they contributed to, Moscow under Putin "is preparing – totally unprovoked – for regional wars in Europe, which they want to end with the help of nuclear weapons threats." And those "war preparations" are happening at a time "when our political attention is shrouded in climate change, the migration crisis, the EU crisis and many other issues."

If a war breaks out, Moscow could try a "surprise attack... which would be underpinned by nuclear threats before NATO can effectively respond," the pair asserted. Echoing some Pentagon hawks, they singled out Baltic states and Poland as the first victims of the Russian offensive.

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The arguments by reputed pundits might look plausible, but experts interviewed by RT believe that the opposite is true. "NATO did what they could do... to pose a military threat to the Russian Federation," said Willy Wimmer, former vice-president of the OSCE's Parliamentary Assembly.

Likewise, the EU is militarizing itself as it pursues "an old Anglo-Saxon idea" of isolating Russia from the rest of Europe.

Like many other Russia-bashing articles, Die Welt's publication wouldn't be complete without claiming that Moscow "purposefully interferes with our democracies." It also complained that NATO can't do anything to tackle it. "Everything that Russia is doing is not recognized in Western circles," commented Peter Schulze, professor at the reputed University of Goettingen.

Moscow "is visibly demonized, this is a tragic situation we're all in," he lamented. Regrettably, these allegations are nothing out of the ordinary as "the majority of German experts are floating the mainstream, and the mainstream [says] that Russia is responsible, Russia is a demon, Russia is an aggressor."

The publication repeatedly made reference to the Russian strategic mindset which allegedly allows for nuclear weapons to be used alongside conventional ones. It also seeks to "exploit the weaknesses of the other side while avoiding being exploited by the enemy."

Such claims are disconnected from reality and make little sense, according to Schulze. "No one wants a nuclear war, not even the die-hard [politicians] in the West or the most conservative elements in the Kremlin," he stated.

Interestingly, the authors didn't deviate much from the official word of NATO. Its latest military strategy decries"challenges in the east and the south" of Europe and cites a commonly hyped "nuclear threat" from Moscow.

Obviously, "there's nothing objective in this report" because Krause and Brauss were "just repeating [an agenda] coming out from NATO headquarters and Brussels."

The experts "have a mission to fulfil, namely to come out from time to time with so-called reports [on Russia]," he concluded. The story comes as NATO builds up forces and upgrades its infrastructure in the east of Europe. The bloc has repeatedly staged various war games on its 'eastern flank' focusing on protecting the Baltics and Poland against the elusive "Russian aggression."

In the meantime, Russian military exercises – which have never spilled over from Russia's own territory – have sparked mass hysteria among NATO officials that portrayed them as preparations for covert and imminent invasions.
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Russian S-400 benefits NATO, US should do what strategic partnership entails – Erdogan

Turkey’s Erdogan said NATO “should be happy” that a member state is beefing up security, even with Russia’s S-400 air defense system. He also called on Trump to waive sanctions and sell Turkey fighter jets.

If Turkey “will become stronger in its security area, who will also be stronger? This will strengthen the alliance itself,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday, calling the S-400 deal the most important in Turkish history.

Also on rt.com Turkey receives more S-400 parts as US holds off retaliation ‘until after coup attempt anniversary’...

Washington officials have other ideas. Purchasing the S-400 opens Ankara up to sanctions under CAATSA, a 2017 act that, among other things, can be used to penalize allies for “transactions” with the Russian defense sector. 

However, the US has not yet applied sanctions to Turkey for the S-400 deal, despite House Foreign Affairs Committee chair and CAATSA co-sponsor Rep. Eliot Engel declaring on Friday that Erdogan “must face stiff consequences” for siding with “Vladimir Putin over the alliance.” 

Though a NATO ally, Turkey has often had an antagonistic relationship with the US. Both countries sparred over trade last year, and Ankara has pressured Washington to extradite Fethulla Gulen, an Islamic cleric Erdogan claims orchestrated the failed 2016 coup against him. 

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Despite the frequent animosity, Erdogan remained optimistic on Sunday that Trump will “find the middle ground” and refrain from sanctioning Turkey. Trump “has the authority to waive or postpone CAATSA,” he added, pointing out that he had enjoyed a warm discussion with the US leader on the matter at last month’s G20 summit in Osaka, Japan. 

Speaking after the meeting, Trump blamed the current spat on the Obama administration for refusing to sell the US’ Patriot missile system to Turkey. Erdogan echoed these words on Sunday, saying “offer us the patriots and we’ll take the patriots from you. But we need to have alternatives.” The Obama administration refused to supply the missiles as Ankara wanted the deal to come with a transfer of technology.

In the run-up to Turkey’s S-400 purchase, the US used the threat of withholding the next-generation F-35 stealth fighter jet from Ankara as a bargaining chip, citing concerns that the S-400 could learn the jet’s ‘secrets’ if operated alongside it. 

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Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan warned his Turkish counterpart, Hulusi Akar last month that Turkey would find itself excluded from the F-35 program if it did not reverse course on the purchase by July 31. Turkey has invested $1.25 billion in the program, is one of nine partner states developing the warplane, and has ordered 100 units. The Pentagon and State Department, however, remained silent over the weekend as Turkey took delivery of its first S-400s.

Erdogan told journalists that Turkey had remained “loyal” to the F-35 program, making its payments on time, and that his apparent loyalty should be repaid with future defense cooperation. “We are strategic partners,” he said. “Let's do what strategic partnership entails.”

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‘Laser weapons’ to define Russia’s military potential in 21st century – Putin

Russian leader Vladimir Putin says that laser technology will play a crucial role in the nation’s military might as he spoke about the “first practical results” of the country’s Peresvet combat laser system.

Putin highlighted the importance of developing laser technology, including the “tactical-level combat laser complexes,” at a defense-themed cabinet meeting on Friday.

Such types of weaponry will at large be defining the combat potential of the Russian Army and Navy… throughout the whole of the 21st century.

Putin said that the government will study “the first practical results” of the laser system Peresvet’s performance when used by the military. The cutting-edge weapon formally entered test service in December.

Combat laser system enters test duty in Russia...

Named after a famous 14th century Russian patriotic warrior monk, Peresvet was announced by Putin last year.

Nearly everything about the weapon is classified, even its exact purpose. Experts suggest that the laser, among other things, may be used as a jamming device or to neutralize airborne targets, including cruise missiles. Some said that military-grade lasers like that can be used against enemy satellites.

In his speech in March 2018, Putin revealed a number of brand new state-of-the-art weapons. Among them was the air-launched hypersonic missile Kinzhal (‘Dagger’), which later successfully passed trials and was mounted on MiG-31 fighter jets.

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Ukrainian adventurism in Black Sea risks pulling NATO into war with Russia – senators

NATO support is encouraging Ukraine's recklessness in relations with Russia, but such provocation could lead to a military conflict in which the US-led alliance itself could become involved, the Russian Federation Council said.

Senators released a joint statement dedicated to NATO's 70th anniversary on Tuesday, paying special attention to the latest anti-Russian remarks coming from the organization.

US Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison said last week that a special “package” had been designed within the bloc “to assure that there is a safe passage for Ukrainian vessels” through the Kerch Strait.

The narrow waterway connecting the Black Sea and Azov Sea, which Russia controls, became the venue of an intense standoff last November, when several Ukrainian vessels deliberately violated Russia's maritime border near the Kerch Strait. They were detained by the Russian coast guard, which chased the intruders and fired shots at them.

The Federal Council clarified that “the passage of Ukrainian ships through the Kerch Strait is not a question of balance of power or NATO's presence in the Black Sea region, but solely the Ukrainian side's problem with observing the procedures, which it is well aware of and has successfully fulfilled before.

“The attempts by Kiev to bypass those procedures carry the risk of a military conflict between Russia and Ukraine, in which NATO may also become involved,” the statement warned.

In fact, Russia hasn't banned Ukrainian vessels from crossing the Kerch Strait, and civilian ships do it on a daily basis. Military vessels have to notify the Russian port authorities of their passage in advance – something that wasn't done during the November crisis, which Moscow decried as a “provocation” by Kiev.

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The senators said that NATO's backing of non-member states Ukraine and Georgia “pushes the leadership of those countries, who feel their impunity, to get involved in even more adventurism.”

Their statement also condemned NATO's eastward expansion and its military buildup around Russian borders. It also urged the bloc to resume dialogue with the Russian military based "on mutual respect" as the only way to reduce tensions.

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Nothing short of total obedience? Pentagon rejects any talks with Turkey in S-400 vs F-35 row

The Pentagon has firmly rejected Turkey's offer to create a bilateral working group that would ensure that no military secrets of the US are compromised once Ankara deploys the Russian S-400 air defense systems.

Trying to preserve a working relationship with Washington amid disagreements over Turkey’s purchase of modern weapon systems from Russia, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Wednesday proposed creating a bilateral technical panel to make sure that the S-400 “will not be a threat – neither to F-35s nor the NATO systems.” He reiterated the need for such an arrangement on Thursday, before the Pentagon rejected the Turkish proposal, insisting that it stands opposed to American and Russian weapons working side-by-side.

“A technical working group at this stage isn’t necessary or a path the US is even considering as a resolution,” said Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon.

We have been clear with Turkey at all levels – the S-400 is a threat to the F-35 program and the safety of our NATO allies.

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The Pentagon halted the transfer of F-35 technology to Turkey earlier this week, until Ankara abandons its planned acquisition of the Russian hardware. The move was followed by a warning from Vice President Mike Pence, who threatened to kick Ankara out from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program unless it behaves like a good NATO ally and bows to Washington’s conditions. Turkey joined the Program in 2002 and, over the years, invested more than $1.25 billion in developing and manufacturing various parts for the jet.

Also on rt.com Russian S-400 purchase a ‘done deal,’ despite US freeze on F-35 deliveries – Turkish FM...

Washington remains committed to pressing Turkey into buying US-made Patriot missile defense systems instead. “This issue with the S-400 is a very serious issue,” the Pentagon’s spokesman Charlie Summers told reporters on Thursday. “Should they accept the S-400, that would definitely affect the F-35.”

Turkey “could agree on a price” for the Patriots, pending congressional approval to resolve the F-35 issue, yet is does not consider it as an alternative to the S-400, Cavusoglu reiterated. The minister also emphasized that relations with Russia are not seen as an alternative to the NATO alliance.

Also on rt.com Turkey must choose between remaining NATO partner or buying Russian S-400 – Pence...

Downplaying the friction in bilateral ties, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he remains “very confident” that the sides “will find a path forward,” following a meeting between top US and Turkish diplomats. Ankara has, meanwhile, accused the US State Department of making false claims and of failing to mention that Pompeo had been threatening Turkey with “devastating consequences.”

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