By Yekaterina Kudashkina
Interview with Gennady Yevstafyev, independent analyst and retired Lieutenant General of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, about possible implication of Patriot missile deployment on Turkish-Syrian border.
Sir, what do we need to make out of the demand made by Turkey to deploy Patriot missiles on the border with Syria? What implications could that have?
Well, it is very difficult to predict what is going to happen. But in my personal opinion the Syrian tragedy is entering the final stage and now we are at the crossroads. Either we, I mean the international community, make a deal and we will find a peaceful solution or there will be further bloodshed and foreign intervention, and the growth of terrorist groups, and invasion into the Syrian territory. And in the long run the dismantlement of Syria as a unitary state.
So, Turkey which started to play this game I think made a principal strategic mistake. Instead of making deal and keeping its prestige and influence in the area it has chosen to play the game of a leader of Islamic forces and it has come to Sunni pressure and decided that it would be better served if Syria is dismantled, dismembered – and it is playing this game.
Unfortunately, Turkey is not really independent in playing this game. It is playing this game under the pressure of Saudi Arabia and Sunni states of Persian Gulf, under the pressure of American political elite, present elite which despite all what happened decided to go on with the Arab Spring till the very end. And it is playing this game because it is not that easy inside Turkey for Erdogan because the initial success of his Islamization of the country was short-lived. And now there are rather mighty forces which are working against him and in the long run they will overcome his Islamization.
Of course now he has finished the Ergenekon and put military under arrest and so on. But the Nurjular movement, Fethullah Gulen, Kemalist Youth Organization, Kurdish Organization – they are working very hard to undermine his regime. And Turkey is in bad need of symbolic support from the Western side, and especially from the Europeans. And the stationing of Patriot there is one of the really impressive manifestations of this kind of political support.
Now, usually it is given on the temporary basis by the Dutch and the Germans, but they are not going to station these Patriot detachments there forever. The question is – is it a first step to the stationing of American anti-aircraft missile systems. If it is the first step which is covered by these two nations of the NATO alliance – then we have to expect very bad developments in the area of the ME and in terms of handling the Iranian situation.
If it is a purely symbolic gesture which would be temporary and they would remove it after some time, and it will play its role in the support of Western countries which have exhausted all kinds of support for Turkey, they don’t have anything else to show – then it is the other thing.
Especially unpleasant this is on the eve of the planned visit of our President to Turkey. Frankly speaking, I’m annoyed by this because it is an unfriendly gesture on the part of Western alliance on the possible visit of Mr. Putin to Turkey with the state visit. But maybe I exaggerate certain things, but it is a very unpleasant announcement and it will not change the overall military-political situation around Syria. It is a purely symbolic political gesture because the military meaning of this temporary stationing is negligible.
So, in this sense I hope that it is as I predict a temporary gesture and I wish they are not going to develop into the long term policy.
What kind of missile is the Patriot?
Patriot is antimissile and antiaircraft system which they were supposed to station in Poland. But now they don’t station it in Poland, though Poland has been compensated by stationing aircraft. But this Patriot missile is supposed to be stationed in Romania and Bulgaria. So, we have a development which somehow in the long run will create sort of a shield around the southern Black Sea area. And I’m not sure it is only for the purpose of intercepting Iranian missiles.
And what about their range?
They are not of a long range, they are intercepting within the range of 60 to 150 miles, not more than that. And they are not a very sophisticated weapon. But the problem is – after you station this you make people believe this is nothing dangerous and then you substitute this with the more sophisticated and more effective weapons as a part of modernization of armed forces.
I can’t understand why there is such a concentration of antimissile defense in the area of the ME. You have fantastic forces located in Israel. You have plans to locate them in Bulgaria, Romania. You are planning to locate something in Poland. Then, you are now trying to involve Turkey in the system. So, what is the final purpose of this? Because it is very hard to believe that Syria is presenting a threat or military risk from this point of view.