Among the conclusions drawn from the August crisis with Turkey was that the Hellenic Navy’s Type 214 Papanikolis submarine, in collaboration with other submersibles of the fleet and anti-submarine helicopters, tilted the scales in favor of Greece in the Aegean Sea. Specifically, the Papanikolis managed to remain out of sight below sea level for 34 consecutive days, carrying out its mission in full.
The Greek fleet also managed to use its forces in such a way as to separate the Eastern Mediterranean from the Aegean Sea, by making the most of the geography – the line linking eastern Crete, Kasos, Karpathos and Rhodes. In practical terms, this means that if the situation had escalated, Turkey would be unable to move forces from one theater of operations to another.
However, these positive conclusions drawn by Hellenic National Defense General Staff (GEETHA) have been tempered by the very strong Turkish presence in the air. According to estimates, Turkish jets probably had the opportunity to give Ankara an image of the Eastern Mediterranean theater of operations on a 24-hour basis. With the Turkish air force’s flying radars CN-235, ATR-72, E-7T Wedgetail (Boeing) and its UAVs, the armed forces had, according to well-informed sources, a constant awareness of the situation in the entire area east of Rhodes and south of Kastellorizo.
Nonetheless, Greece can also take away positives from the protracted crisis on the diplomatic front as well, given the multiple forms of cooperation Athens has developed with France, Israel, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
Cooperation with France is evolving within the context of the European Union, with the common denominator being the understanding that Turkey is testing regional stability. Relations with the UAE and Saudi Arabia in particular are expected to gain yet more momentum over the coming months, not just in the military field, but in the economic one as well.
These developments are, apparently, taking place with the full approval of the Americans, who, although keen for this kind of closer cooperation, are still trying to keep Turkey anchored to the West, a path that been seriously undermined by Turkey’s procurement of the Russian S-400 systems, putting a severe strain on relations with the US and the NATO alliance.