Selling missiles to the Qataris is not only good business for the Russians; it also allows them to meddle in the conflicted and splintered politics of the Gulf states.
Military experts refer to the Russian-made S-400 SAM (surface-to-air missile) system as beyond compare, with one calling it "the most capable and lethal long-range air defense missile system on the planet".
Nicknamed the Growler, this portable weapons system can engage virtually any aerial target, from ballistic missiles to stealth fighter jets to unmanned aerial vehicles, at a range of up to 400 kilometres. It is simply the best. The highly touted American Patriot system doesn’t even come close.
So it is not surprising that the Russians are finding ready buyers, among them Turkey. The Turks have signed a $2.5bn deal, much to the chagrin of the US. Turkey is a key NATO member and the idea that it would reach out to the Russians has US politicians fuming, so much so that the US Senate is considering killing off a deal to sell 100 F-35 fighter jets to the Turks, as well as threatening sanctions.
A theatre for the Growler
For their part, the Turks are unimpressed by US threats: "The ‘I will impose sanctions if you buy' approach will not affect Turkey. Turkey will not accept this," responded Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. And he brushed off entreaties from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, brusquely noting: "We have completed the S-400 process. That is a done deal."
In the mix in the Middle East to buy the S-400 are Egypt, Iraq and Syria, where the ongoing civil war has proved a perfect theatre to showcase the capabilities and many qualities of the Growler. Among those most impressed by what they have seen are the Saudis. That's understandable, given rising tensions between Tehran and Riyadh as they challenge each other for regional hegemony. (end of excerpt)
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