Intelligence: NATO And The Turkish Leak


August 4, 2011: Turkey is considering purchasing Russian (S300) or Chinese (HQ-9) anti-aircraft missile systems. As a result, because Turkey is a NATO member, and Russia and China are not, NATO informed Turkey that if they bought the Russian or Chinese systems, they would no longer be able to receive NATO classified information pertaining to air defense systems. This is because of the risk of Russia or, especially, China gaining access to these data. Moreover, the Russian and Chinese systems are not, understandably, compatible with NATO ones. That problem could be fixed, but it would again raise the issue of China and Russian obtaining classified technical data on NATO air defense systems.

Turkey believes that the security issue is overblown, and simply a ploy by the United States (which is offering its Patriot system in the competition) and France (which is offering its SAMP/T Aster 30) to knock out the cheaper competition. But there is a real security issue here, although not a unique one. There is a NATO nation (Greece) that has a S300 system. But this was not bought from Russia, but from Greek Cyprus, as part of a deal to settle a political crises with Turkish Cyprus and Turkey. The S300 was moved to the island of Crete, where it served, for all practical purposes, as part of a anti-aircraft test facility. But Turkey wants S300s or HQ-9s for defending Turkey, as part of the NATO air defense system. NATO says no, and that is unlikely to change.