Turkish Bayraktar drones can knock Zelensky out of the president’s chair

MOSCOW, 09 Nov 2021, RUSSTRAT Institute.

The urgent reshuffle in the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine – when the head of the military department Andrey Taran resigned on November 2, and on November 4 the Verkhovna Rada approved his successor Aleksey Reznikov, who previously held the post of minister for the reintegration of “temporarily occupied” territories – raises many questions.

The very first one: why was it necessary to remove Taran? After all, it is very difficult to believe in the narrative that “he complained about the state of health,” as the leader of the presidential faction “Servant of the People” in parliament, David Arakhamiya, claims.

Let’s rewind the events a little bit. On October 26, 2021, the Ukrainian military, according to them, for the first time used a Turkish Bayraktar drone in Donbass against the forces of the People’s Republics. This was done in violation of the Minsk Agreements and caused concern in Berlin, Paris and Moscow. According to the German Foreign Ministry, only the drones of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) can fly in the conflict zone, and “Turkish drones” are not included in them.

On October 27, the press secretary of the President of Russia Dmitry Peskov, commenting on the drone strike, stressed that this “does not contribute to the settlement of the internal Ukrainian problem”. And Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov noted on the same day that this incident should “make those who are arming the Kiev regime controlled by neo-Nazis ponder”.

At the same time, Peskov pointed to a specific country: “We really have special good relations with Turkey, but in this case, unfortunately, our fears are confirmed that the supply of such types of weapons to the Ukrainian military could potentially lead to the destabilisation of the situation on the contact line.”

Ankara’s reaction was complicated. On the one hand, Bayraktar is produced by a company run by Selçuk Bayraktar, the son-in-law of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. So the production and sale of drones is in some sense a “family business”.

On the other hand, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu “heard” Moscow’s concern. On October 31, on the sidelines of the G20 summit in in Rome, he asked Kiev to stop using the name of his country in the context of Bayraktar, saying that “as soon as they bought weapons from us, it ceased to be Turkish”.

Ankara realised how Ukrainian partners could set them up with drones. According to Can Kasapoglu, head of the Security and Defence Research Program at the Istanbul Center for Economic and Foreign Policy Studies (EDAM), Moscow is able to respond to Turkey in Idlib, the Syrian province in the northeast, where the Turkish military is located. Ankara has stated in recent days that it is preparing to conduct a military operation in northern Syria. However, according to sources of the British site Middle East Eye, Erdogan will not dare to act until he comes to an agreement with Russia.

In addition, Kasapoglu writes, the incident in Donbass “may provoke an increase in Russian support for Ukrainian separatists in the fight against drones and electronic warfare.

In light of the Syrian lessons, the Russian defence industry has long been investing in the production of tactical anti-aircraft missile systems “Tor-M2” and mobile multifunctional complexes to counter unmanned aerial vehicles “Sapsan Convoy”. If Bayraktars start falling in the sky over Donbass, goodbye to their reputation and hopes for new contracts.

However, it’s seen that it’s not Turkey and the People’s Republics that are the main affected side of the current situation.  On November 1, Lavrov made an intriguing statement on the Vesti 24 TV channel. He stressed the fact that Kiev is trying to drag Russia into the military actions in Donbass.

And then he spoke about the “mysterious story” about how exactly Ukraine used the Bayraktar drone bought from Turkey in Donbass. “The commander of the Ukrainian Armed Forces declares that these weapons were used, and the Defence Minister says that nothing like this happened,” the Russian Foreign Minister said. And the next day Taran resigned.

All of this allows us to raise two questions. The first: who is the author of the provocation carried out on October 26 in Donbass? The second: who is the main target of the strike? Let’s start with the latter. By all indications, the President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky suffered the heaviest political losses.

He exposed Turkey to Russia’s criticism and demonstrated that his defence minister does not control the Ukrainian military. So Zelensky also does not control the Ukrainian military. This logically implies the following: an alliance of aggressively minded officers of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and nationalist formations acts against the President of Ukraine.

It seems that they want to force the president to leave his post in one way or another. And it’s possible to do it in different ways. To let Zelensky save face or make from him Salvador Allende, who was betrayed by the Chilean military led by the commander-in-chief. There are many options. And in none of them does Zelensky get a second term.

 

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Institute for International Political and Economic Strategies – RUSSTRAT

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