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Security Brief: EUCOM Week of October 4, 2021

Week of Monday, October 4, 2021 | Issue 48

Federica Calissano, Iris Raith, Pètra van de Gevel, Vanessa Coimbra, EUCOM Team



Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia[1]


Date: October 6, 2021

Location: Brussels, Belgium

Parties involved: North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO); Belgian government; Russian government; Russian intelligence

The event: NATO expelled eight Russian diplomats from its headquarters after discovering they have been secretly working as Russian intelligence officers.[2] The expulsions may have been in response to suspected malign Russian activities, such as killings and espionage. Through the accreditations’ withdrawal of the Russian agents, NATO has halved the size of the Moscow team working at the alliance’s headquarters.[3]

The implications:

  • NATO’s policy towards Russia is likely going to remain consistent with the decision made of decreasing NATO’s cooperation with Russian agents. This approach will likely decrease their practical collaboration on counter-terrorism activities, which could likely undermine the alliance’s security. NATO will likely keep strengthening its defense against Russia’s malign activities to safeguard the security of all its state members by both political and military means. NATO will, however, highly likely remain open to dialogue with Russia to bring stability to Europe by promoting predictability and transparency between their military activities.

  • These recent detrimental Russian actions will likely make NATO’s military infrastructure move closer to Russian borders. This alliance's military enhancement highly likely aims to increase control of Russia’s activities that could turn into physical aggression, threatening European security. NATO will likely reinforce the security of the alliance’s member states close to Russia to secure peace, security, and cooperation.


Date: October 6, 2021

Location: Hungary

Parties involved: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán; Democratic Coalition candidate for the European Parliament Klára Dobrev; European Union (EU)

The event: The vice president of the European Parliament, Klára Dobrev, saw her coalition in a close race with Viktor Orbán's Fidesz party for next year's parliamentary elections.[4] In a joint opposition made up of six different parties, the movement features Klára Dobrev's Democratic Coalition, the liberal Momentum Movement party, the nationalist Jobbik, the Hungarian Socialist Party, and the green's Dialogue for Hungary.[5] Recent polls display a thigh race, prompting Dobrev to call for a vote against Hungary that has reached "a point of no return" with the EU.[6]

The implications:

  • The general feelings of discontentment caused by Prime Minister Orbán over the past years can highly likely explain the latest poll results. Orbán's successive interventions since the first election in 2010 in education and foreign policy, steered the country towards an austere and dictatorial government, which almost certainly isolated Hungary from Europe. It is likely the Prime Minister’s decision to support regimes with strained relations with the EU, such as Belarus or Poland, has caused unrest among opposition leaders and national citizens. Campaigns focused on immigration and national identity, as well as the absence of strong opposition to face the power rooted in the last decade, are likely an explanation for his consecutive re-elections. Klára Dobrev's participation in EU super bodies, her anti-regime speeches, and the risk of the bloc's financing interruption, are likely strengthening the coalition, pushing voters to discard Orbán as an alternative for the next term.

  • Social minorities such as the LGBTQ+ community are likely considered as the government's opposition, which led citizens to protest incessantly for a more liberal and accepting country. These protests almost certainly emphasized the public’s mistrust, therefore, this coalition of opposition parties will likely be strongly supported by voters, given the possibility citizens will feel properly represented due to its ideological diversity. However, Orbán's political power is consolidated, and the growth of conservative-right movements within Europe is a concern for socialists and liberals, which can likely postpone Dobrev's victory.


Date: October 7, 2021

Location: Turkey

Parties involved: Turkish government; United States (US); US State Department; US Congress; Russia; NATO; Lockheed Martin; Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan; US President Joe Biden

The event: Turkey asked the US to buy 40 Lockheed Martin-made F-16 fighter jets and nearly 80 modernization kits for its existing warplanes.[7] Turkey wants to modernize its Air Force and the request comes days after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan expressed that he is planning to expand defense ties with Russia.[8] In 2019, Turkey received the Russian S-400 missile defense systems which it acquired in 2017, triggering US sanctions, which resulted in the expulsion of Ankara from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.[9]

The implications:

  • The request to buy fighter planes and modernization kits will highly likely be used to expand Turkey’s defense system. The request, however, will highly likely not get approval from the US Congress due to Turkey’s ambitions in the eastern Mediterranean and its purchase of the Russian S-400 defense system in 2017. If not approved, Turkey will almost certainly continue its plans and expand cooperation with Russia by making more defense purchases from Moscow, such as S-400 defense systems. Although the US strongly objects to the use of Russian systems within NATO, and will almost certainly sanction Turkey, Erdoğan will highly likely remain defiant. This not only poses a threat to the F-35s but also increases security risks to NATO systems.

  • Despite Washington’s warnings, Turkey will almost certainly go forward with plans to acquire additional S-400 units from Russia to improve its defense system and expand defense ties with Russia. The ties between the US and Turkey will highly likely reach a low. US President Joe Biden’s administration will highly likely put more pressure on Turkey by imposing sanctions and penalties, which will likely result in deteriorating relations between Turkey and the US. Moreover, questions about Turkey’s future in the NATO alliance will also likely arise if Russian purchases are made, although it is unlikely Turkey will leave NATO anytime soon as NATO acts as a Turkish safety valve in the Black Sea region where Turkey sees Russian influence growing.


Specialty reports are designed to inform clients of existing and emerging threats worldwide. To defeat terrorists and individuals intent on harming, it is critical to understand and investigate them. We collect and analyze intelligence on terrorists and extremists, their organizations, individuals who are threats, and their tactics and attacks to develop solutions to detect, deter, and defeat any act of terrorism or violence against our client. We also conduct investigations to identify persons of interest, threats, and determine the likelihood of a threat and how to stop them. To find out more about our products and services visit us at counterterrorismgroup.com.

________________________________________________________________________ The Counterterrorism Group (CTG)

[1] Vladimir Putin met with President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Sochi to discuss bilateral relations and current issues on the international agenda by The Russian Presidential Press and Information Office licensed under Wikimedia Commons

[2] Nato expels eight members of Russia’s mission for spying, The Guardian, October 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/oct/06/nato-expels-eight-members-of-russias-mission-for-spying

[3] Ibid

[4] It's 'Orban or Europe' in 2022 election, Hungary opposition frontrunner says, Reuters, October 2021, https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/its-orban-or-europe-2022-election-hungary-opposition-frontrunner-says-2021-10-06/

[5] Hungarian opposition unites in bid to unseat Viktor Orbán, Politico, December 2020, https://www.politico.eu/article/hungary-opposition-unites-in-bid-to-unseat-orban/

[6] It's 'Orban or Europe' in 2022 election, Hungary opposition frontrunner says, Reuters, October 2021, https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/its-orban-or-europe-2022-election-hungary-opposition-frontrunner-says-2021-10-06/

[7] Turkey asks US to buy 40 F-16 jets to upgrade Air Force, say sources, Ekathimerini, October 2021, https://www.ekathimerini.com/news/1169401/turkey-asks-us-to-buy-40-f-16-jets-to-upgrade-air-force-say-sources/

[8] Turkey requests to buy 40 US F-16 fighter planes, Al-monitor, October 2021, https://www.al-monitor.com/originals/2021/10/turkey-requests-buy-40-us-f-16-fighter-planes

[9] Erdogan: Turkey could buy more Russian S-400s despite US warnings, Al Jazeera, September 2021, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/9/26/erdogan-turkey-could-buy-more-russian-s-400s-despite-us-warnings

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