'Purchase of S-400s not a stance against NATO'

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 03.09.2019 00:02

Turkey's purchase of the Russian-made S-400 air missile defense system should not be seen as a stance against NATO, Ömer Çelik, spokesperson for the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) said.

Some 154 different weapons systems are being used in EU countries that are NATO members, while 27 different weapon systems are being used in the U.S., Çelik said in a press conference yesterday. He said that statements that allude to Turkey's purchase of a different weapons system as spoiling the whole picture, ar unrealistic. He underscored that some alliances act contrary to the spirit of what an alliance should be. Çelik emphasized that Turkey wanted to purchase the Patriots missiles from the U.S. in the face of growing security threats engulfing its region, however, the U.S. refused to sell the system to Turkey.

"Let's refresh our memories. When this threat reached high levels between 2013 and 2015, the Patriots were deployed in Turkey. They were taken back to their countries after a certain period of time. It produced a temporary solution. The threats we are facing are not temporary," he said.

Ankara and Washington have been at odds for years over Turkey's interest in the S-400 systems, which the U.S. and NATO officials say are not compatible with NATO defenses and pose a threat to Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter jets operated by the U.S. and other allies.

The U.S. began the process of removing Turkey as a partner on the multinational weapons program in April after Ankara said it would not back down from its S-400 purchase. Tensions deepened in July, when Turkey received its first shipment of the Russian equipment.

Washington has warned

it would impose sanctions beyond removing Turkey from the F-35 program, though it has yet to do so.

Following protracted efforts to purchase an air defense system from the U.S. with no success, Ankara signed a contract in 2017 to purchase the Russian S-400s.

U.S. offi

cials urged Turkey to buy American-made Patriot missiles. Turkey, however, emphasized the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO systems and would not pose a threat to the alliance.

Ankara said it was the U.S.' initial refusal to sell it Patriots that led it to seek other sellers, adding Russia offered it a better deal, including technology transfers.

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