Ankara ruled out claims on a shift in its political and military alignment after the acquisition of the S-400 air missile system from Russia, emphasizing a lack of support from its allies in defense, particularly from Washington.
"These charges are baseless. They point to a profound failure of understanding and a deliberate dismissal of Turkey's legitimate security concerns, the regional dynamics in which it operates and the larger geopolitical realities," Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın wrote Monday in an article for Bloomberg. 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 S-400s from Russia. U.S. officials argued the Russian system would be incompatible with NATO systems and expose the F-35 fighters to possible Russian subterfuge. Turkey, however, emphasized the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO systems and would not pose a threat to the alliance.
Stressing that Turkey is one of most prominent components of NATO and has played and continues to take a "crucial role in all major NATO missions, from Kosovo and Bosnia to Lebanon and Afghanistan," Kalın said that questioning Turkey's standing in NATO is no different from questioning NATO's integrity and relevance in the 21st century.
"So the real question is not whether Turkey is moving away from the West but why Turkey's legitimate security concerns are being ignored in a systematic manner. And there is a long list of these concerns," he said. Kalın added that the decision by the Obama administration to ally itself with PKK terrorist organization's Syrian affiliate the People's Protection Units (YPG) further damaged the bond of trust between the two allies. "This policy, currently continued under the Trump administration, also poses a serious threat to Syria's territorial integrity and political unity," the presidential spokesperson said.
Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said last week Ankara's removal from the F-35 program will negatively affect the strength of NATO's southern wing in particular, after the U.S. announced it would remove Turkey from the program over its purchase of a S-400 air defense system.