Will the aggravation in Karabakh lead to a war between Turkey and Russia - or is there nothing to worry about?

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Will the aggravation in Karabakh lead to a war between Turkey and Russia - or is there nothing to worry about?
Will the aggravation in Karabakh lead to a war between Turkey and Russia - or is there nothing to worry about?

Ankara supports Azerbaijan in the new Karabakh war - in a word, demanding from Armenia to clear Karabakh, and in deed - helping Baku with military equipment. And judging by the latest data from France, and manpower in the form of terrorists from Syria. It seems as if Erdogan was again raging and ready to raise the stakes to the skies. Will it come to an open war with Armenia and Russia, which will have to support Yerevan by virtue of treaty obligations? Let's try to figure out whether the Turkish leader will also involve the Russians in the conflict.


Turkey is quite clearly behind the supply of a number of drones to Azerbaijan, as well as behind the appearance of militants from the Middle East in the zone of the Karabakh conflict. The latter fact was stated (albeit without mentioning Turkish mediation) even by the Russian Foreign Ministry, which usually tries to distance itself from anything that could create problems in relations with neighboring countries. A photo of a Syrian mercenary killed in Karabakh has already appeared in the French press, and official Paris says the same. Concern over Turkish intervention in the conflict was expressed not only by the French president, but also by the heads of Russia and Armenia.

Thus, Turkish intervention in the conflict in Karabakh is evident. Erdogan also supports him with verbal interventions - demanding that Armenia withdraw its troops from Karabakh, as if he has the right to interfere in the sovereign affairs of other states. Ankara's involvement in a new war in Transcaucasia is understandable: as we have already noted, the conflict is beneficial to Turkey.

The question involuntarily arises: how exactly is it profitable? Will the Turks decide that it may even be beneficial for them to get involved in a direct military confrontation with Russia?

Formally, this is not impossible. It will be enough to prove the fact of an attack on Armenian aircraft over the territory of Armenia or to find Turkish F-16s over its lands for Russia, as a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, to be forced to enter the conflict on the side of Yerevan. As we well know from history, the likelihood that a neighbor of Russia wants to drag her into a war often depends not on the degree of morality of this neighbor, but on whether he considers himself stronger than Moscow or not. Therefore, it makes sense to look at the military potential of Turkey - in order to understand whether Erdogan himself can consider it comparable to that of Russia.

Turkey: economy and army

Marxism tells us that the fighting efficiency of a country is determined by its economic base. And here Turkey looks rather modest: with 82 million inhabitants, its PPP GDP is $ 2.2 trillion, and Russia - $ 4.0 trillion. However, wars do not take place in the Marxist world, but in ours, so Japan defeated Russia in 1905, and the USSR defeated Germany in 1945 - although in both cases the economies of the defeated were noticeably stronger.


It is also of great importance which part of the national economy is focused on military efforts. In Turkey, it is very large: the country spent 17 billion dollars annually on military needs in 2000-2015. This means that its military budget is four to five times less than the modern Russian budget and is comparable to its own expenditures around 2000.

Such expenditures have yielded results. Ankara has about 200 modern F-16 combat aircraft of not the most ancient modifications: about 160 of them are C, about 40 are a later version, D.Some of these two hundred were modified to Block 50 and roughly correspond to the level of the Su-30 (but not the Su-35). The rest of Turkey's combat aircraft are noticeably more outdated (Phantoms and the like).


A similar picture is with tanks: there are about 3, 2 thousand of them (up to 3, 5, taking into account faulty and unused actively). But no more than 300 of them are relatively modern Leopards-2. It makes no sense to use the earlier Leopard-1 and the American M-60 and M-48 if the enemy has modern tanks: their armor and weapons are much worse. Actually, there are problems with the Leopards-2: before the wars of this decade, they were considered well protected, but now it is known that when an anti-tank guided missile hits, they can explode so that the crew will not have time to leave the car alive:

At the same time, for the T-90, the situation, judging by open data, is exactly the opposite:

Finally, do not forget that in the event of a direct war, we are unlikely to see large-scale tank battles or battles of large groups of fighters. Another scenario is much more likely: the sides will exchange strikes with cruise missiles and other high-precision weapons. The Kyrgyz Republic will try to destroy the air defense and infrastructure of large military air bases. If you're lucky, then the most combat-ready fighters are on them.

Serious field battles are possible only on the territory of Armenia, where the Russian military base is located (Gyumri), and in Syria, where another (Khmeimim) is located. For all the importance of these theaters, they are local, but the battles for the destruction of Turkish air defenses can be decisive.

In this regard, Ankara is sad. It has SOM missiles launched from aircraft, but their range in any modification is no more than 230 kilometers. The CR is the "farthest arm" of modern armies, and the length of this arm is extremely important. The Turkish SOMs will reach Russia only at a grave risk to the aircraft launching these missiles. Cruise missiles are not fired one at a time: it makes no sense, because it is so easy to shoot them down with air defense, and you cannot achieve a systemic defeat of the enemy.

And it is rather difficult to imagine how Turkey is risking many of its planes at once for the sake of the possibility of an attack on the Russian "mainland". Let us recall the American strike with 59 Tomahawks at the Shayrat airfield in 2017: if the attacked side had advance data on the raid, the damage for the Syrians was minimal (only faulty aircraft could not fly away), the infrastructure of the facility did not suffer at all. There is no point in risking something of value for such blows.

Near Moscow, cruise missiles have a launch range of 1,500 kilometers (part of the "Calibers") to 5,500 kilometers (Kh-101). That is, its cruise missiles are capable of shelling Turkey even from Kaliningrad, even from Krasnoyarsk - knowingly not entering the Turkish air defense zone. Moscow has thousands of cruise missiles. In addition, Russia has Iskander operational-tactical missile systems, which are quite capable of shelling Turkish territory from Crimea.


In theory, Ankara has already begun to receive regimental S-400 kits that can protect it from many Russian cruise missiles. But there is a nuance: Turkey is big, but it has few S-400s. And even one more thing: it is far from the fact that Russian export equipment will certainly work in the wrong hands if it is used in the war against Moscow.

Conclusion: Erdogan is simply not ready for a missile war in military-technical terms. And this is not surprising: Turkey, despite its dynamic economy, does not have such a diversified industry as Russia, and even its cruise missile engines are imported. It is difficult to buy engines for a serious rocket, and the sanctions (fortunately, the United States does not like Erdogan and directly cooperated with those who tried to overthrow him) make reliance on imports questionable in such matters.

What chances does Turkey have for limited success - for example, in Armenia and Syria?

Russian forces in Syria, on the one hand, are isolated from the "mainland", on the other hand, they have a solid multi-level air defense system, from S-400 to "Armor", as well as experienced electronic warfare units, because of which it will be difficult to attack them with drones - if at all possible.Finally, in the course of the Syrian war, they already got acquainted with the trademark cunning of the Turkish side, which is ready at any moment to strike someone who does not wait. Therefore, the prospects for Turkish success in the SAR are ambiguous.


They will be even weaker if we remember the attempts of the Turks and the pro-Turkish militants supported by them to clear the Kurds from certain areas of Syria, from where Ankara wanted to survive. It didn't work out very well: the losses were large (including in the Leopards), the rate of advance was measured in kilometers per day. But then the Russian Air Force and artillery did not work against them. In general, it is not very wise to attack Russia where they could not completely defeat even the Kurds.

The Russian base in Gyumri also does not give the impression of easy prey. Yes, she was not attacked by drone swarms like Khmeimim, but the Syrian experience in training her forces is also taken into account. There is no such serious Russian air force as in Syria, but in principle they can be transferred there, providing reliable air cover.

The Turks can attack Gyumri using the same SOM cruise missiles and high-precision gliding bombs with GPS guidance, as well as the most long-range artillery. For Russia, for some time, it would be reasonable for Russia to hit the positions of Turkish artillery and Turkish airfields only with cruise missiles and Iskander missiles.

Indeed, until the destruction of the Turkish air defense system (which is not done in one day or even a week), flights of Russian aircraft over it will be unsafe. Nevertheless, Ankara has practically no prospects for capturing the base in Gyumri: long-term successes in this direction are beyond the capabilities of the Turkish army. Including because after the massive attacks of cruise missiles on its bases in Turkish territory, Erdogan will not be up to risky offensive operations on foreign soil.

At the same time, one should not evaluate Turkey as an easy enemy: it has never been such. Yes, after the coup in 2016, the percentage of commanders dismissed from the army during the purge was close to 1937 in the Red Army. However, they cleaned out not so much the most capable as the most inclined to conspiracy - in contrast to 1937 in the USSR. Therefore, it is far from a fact that this negatively affected the local officer corps.

In addition, the Turks will be well motivated in a hypothetical war with Russia and Armenia: their ancestors fought with these countries for centuries, plus the fact that Moscow did not allow the Turkoman region to be split off from Syria makes many Turks noticeably angry. If the war were defensive for Ankara, it could offer serious resistance. Alas, Russia is somehow not aimed at landing troops on the Turkish shores.

Can anyone else get involved in the conflict: on the brilliant foreign policy of modern Turkey

Formally, Turkey is a NATO member. And purely theoretically, this means that the entire North Atlantic Alliance can stand up for it. Of course, Moscow will not attack Ankara first, and NATO is a formally defensive alliance. That is, in theory, NATO is not obliged to defend Turkey in the event of its attack on Russia and Armenia. But this will not be a problem: the Turks can always say that the Russians attacked them first, without presenting any evidence. And if there is a team from Washington, everyone will even "believe" them.


The Azerbaijani community has published a video of armed people in pickup trucks - allegedly Syrian mercenaries - are driving towards the front.

-We know via sources that 100+ Syrians went to Azerbaijan. pic.twitter.com/6I2w2l5eRz

- Sargon Courtenay (@CourtenaySargon) September 27, 2020

This has already happened: no one seriously believed in 2008 that Russia attacked Georgia. However, the Western media then regularly and massively reported that the statements of the Georgians were true and the Russians attacked them first. Why did this happen? Because when Washington says "must", Western media do as it said. That is life.

The problem is that this time Washington will not want to pretend that it believes that Russia and Armenia attacked Turkey. Erdogan pretty much annoyed them: in 2016, the CIA already supported a military coup, which was supposed to remove him from power.At the last moment, Moscow warned the head of the Turkish state - and the coup failed. For Washington, there will be no happier picture than a situation where now Russia will lead Erdogan's Turkey to disaster.

Yes, the Turkish press attributed the CIA's alleged jewelry actions to drive wedges between Russia and Turkey in 2016-2017. These actions included the murder by a Gulenist (Gulen lives in the United States) of the Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, in December 2016, and even the death of three Turkish servicemen, who allegedly had been framed by the Russian air force in early 2017 in order to embroil Ankara and Moscow.

What can we say about this? Even if this were the case - for which there is no evidence - there is no point in these hypothetical actions of the CIA. Because Erdogan is not the right person to need someone's help in ruining relations with allies. He did it consistently with Israel, the United States and Russia - without any CIA assistance. If Langley was behind these incidents, then this is an example of the CIA's inability to work, and not vice versa.

The West's dislike for Erdogan has deep reasons and cannot be eradicated. Unlike other NATO leaders, he is pursuing a clearly nationalist policy rather than following the American channel. Washington does not need allies who do not repeat what it says. Therefore, an alliance between him and Ankara will become possible only after the removal or death of Erdogan and the victory of the next pro-American coup with the support of the CIA. That is, active assistance to Turkey from the West is practically out of the question.

Erdogan cannot attack Russia … at least not himself

Looking at the prospects of Turkey being drawn into the war with Armenia and - as a result - with Russia, it is easy to see that they look extremely dubious. Turkey will find itself in international isolation, there will be no special place to buy weapons, the work of its military-industrial complex under the attacks of cruise missiles and then bombs may not work. It has about the same prospects for winning an offensive war with Russia as Roskosmos - to get ahead of Mask on the Moon (or Mars). That is, realistically speaking, the odds are zero. These are simply too different levels: the army of Turkey is not a bad army of a regional power, but not at all what Moscow has.

Therefore, the Turkish president himself will remain as far away as possible from the likelihood of such a war until the very end. He will deny the interference, he will talk about the provocations of the Gulenists seeking to embroil him with Russia: we will remind you that it was on them that he blamed the Turkish strike on the Russian Su-24 in 2015.

But here we must take into account that there are two forces in the world that would like the opposite - for Ankara to be drawn into the war. The CIA is hungry for this because Erdogan got the US back when he "threw" an American ally in Syria. Azerbaijan - because it knows that it is not strong enough to cope with Karabakh without direct military support from Turkey.


These two forces can really try to make sure that some Turkish military explicitly intervenes in the conflict between Armenians and Azerbaijanis - moreover, preferably during an air strike (for example, an air strike) on the territory of Armenia. Precisely Armenia, not Karabakh - so that Russia was forced to enter the war, defending Armenia (it has no allied obligations with Karabakh).

At the same time, one should not overestimate the capabilities of these two forces. The CIA has never succeeded in really subtle games in an alien (non-western) territory, the organization has a poor feel for local specifics (it does not carefully delve into local cultural characteristics). To overthrow the prime minister in Iran - yes, they can do that. Arrange a successful provocation depicting Turkey's attack on Russia? We doubt Langley is suddenly flooded with brilliant young talent to make it happen.

Azerbaijan is not at all capable of subtle military-diplomatic maneuvering. It is appropriate here to recall the story of the Azerbaijani officer Safarov.In 2003, while on an internship in Europe, out of ethnic hatred, he cut off the head of a sleeping Armenian officer who lived in the same hostel. The Hungarians were a little shocked: their heads in their country have not been cut for a long time, and such a crime is exotic. Safarov was given a life sentence, the Azerbaijanis promised the Hungarians to buy their government bonds worth two to three billion dollars a few years later in exchange for issuing Safarov. Having promised that he will stay in Azerbaijan too.

The Hungarians believed - Safarov arrived in Baku and was immediately released, awarded, promoted and honored as a national hero. The shock of Budapest cannot be described: they did not even think that international obligations could be so blatantly ignored.

It is clear from this that Baku is ruled not by the masters of military-diplomatic intrigue, but by the elephants in the china shop. Such people are unlikely to be able to push Ankara and Moscow against their will. So the Karabakh conflict, most likely, will remain without the open intervention of "big" states.

We emphasize once again: no open. Of course, Turkish drones in the sky of the conflict, F-16s, which formally do not enter the territory of Armenia and Karabakh, but hang in the air with a hammer of Damocles, and Syrian militants who, through Turkey's mediation, ended up in Karabakh - all this is interference in the war. But not one that could lead to the involvement of third countries in it. For better or for worse.

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