S-400s
© Sputnik/Sergey Guneev
Russian S-400s
The US has punished Turkey for buying Russian air defense systems by cutting it from the F-35 program. The rationale behind the move is speculative, and Ankara's example may prompt other US allies to buy Russian, experts told RT.

Turkey received its first deliveries of the S-400 long-range air defense system last week, which it purchased in 2017. The US, which has been promising to retaliate by denying Turkey access to its F-35 fighter jets, delivered on the threat. Washington claims doing otherwise would have exposed the advanced aircraft to surveillance by the Russian system and compromised its stealth capabilities.

The US-advocated link between the two systems is "imaginary" and arbitrary, according to RT's defense expert Mikhail Khodarenok. The reality is that Turkey, a NATO ally, is boosting its defense capabilities with the purchase and, by extension, makes the entire alliance stronger.

"Everything said by the US officials about the delivery to Turkey of the advanced air defense system should be viewed as a sign of competition between two leading producers of modern weapons - Russia and the US," he said. "The S-400 Triumf is better than its American counterpart, the PAC-3 Patriot, in almost every regard. Ankara's preference is not surprising."

Turkey's decision to stick to the deal despite extraordinary pressure from Washington shows how badly it needed this type of military hardware, Vladimir Batyuk, a senior fellow with the Moscow-based Institute of the USA and Canada, told RT.

"Denmark or the Netherlands have no reasons to fear for their military security. The ruling elites there may go hysterical from time to time, crying: 'The Russian bear is about to eat us!' But everybody knows that's just politics," he said. "Turkey has real threats to address."

The S-400 in particular boosts Turkey's stance against fellow NATO member Greece. The two nations may share a defense alliance, but have longstanding differences over Cyprus. "For non-NATO nations Turkey's willingness to go against the US to purchase this Russian system serves as good advertising." Countries like Saudi Arabia may follow the example of China, India and Turkey and buy S-400 SAMs, Batyuk suggested.

Khodorenok said that, by accusing Russia of using its exported weapons for espionage, the US is engaging in projection.

"The US hardware supplied to foreign nations is full of software backdoors, which allow the US to tune down its specifications or render it completely useless in battle if such need arises," he said. "Russia is much more honest in that regard... All the buyers, including potential ones, know this."

Washington's decision to ban deliveries of F-35s to Turkey and replace parts for the jet produced in Turkey was taken as an invitation to pitch more sales in Russia. Ankara could be interested in Sukhoi Su-35s instead, suggested Sergey Chemezov, the head of the state-owned defense giant Rostech. Turkish officials indicated there may be room for talks in this regard.