The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has rejected the U.S. decision to impose sanctions on Turkey for the purchase of Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems.
In a series of messages posted on Twitter, spokesperson Ömer Çelik criticized the sanctions as contrary to friendly relations between the two countries.
“This decision, which contradicts the spirit of alliance and contradicts the historical extent of Turkey-U.S. relations, has no legal basis and is far from justice and is completely wrong in terms of allied relations,” Çelik said.
The spokesperson added that Turkey was forced to procure the S-400 system from Russia after its NATO partners removed their Patriots from the country while rockets were landing on Kilis, near its border with Syria.
“This was our most natural sovereign right,” Çelik said, adding that Turkey is protecting its own borders, which happen to also be the borders of the European Union and NATO.
He warned that the unilateral sanctions, coupled with the rejection of diplomacy, may damage bilateral relations.
“Turkey is determined. We will continue to take all necessary precautions to protect our national security and protect our borders,” he said, adding that Turkey will also take steps in response to the sanctions.
Meanwhile, AK Party Deputy Chairperson Numan Kurtulmuş said such sanctions will strengthen the Turkish defense industry.
“Our attitude is clear. We did not purchase the S-400s for no reason,” Kurtulmuş told a live broadcast on NTV on Tuesday.
Kurtulmuş also touched upon the cross border security threat, saying that Turkey had to have a mechanism to counteract the attacks against the country.
He noted that the politicians in the U.S. also know that the sanctions will have grave consequences.
“The U.S. does not want to lose an ally like Turkey,” he added.
Sanctions were placed on Turkey for its purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system.
Several other Turkish defense officials – namely Mustafa Alper Deniz, Serhat Gençoğlu and Faruk Yiğit – were also sanctioned for their role in the S-400 purchase.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry, in its immediate response, condemned the decision and highlighted the U.S.' unfair stance on the matter throughout the S-400 purchase process.
Ties between NATO allies Turkey and the U.S. were badly strained last year over Ankara's acquisition of the advanced S-400 Russian air defense system, prompting Washington to remove Turkey from its F-35 Lightning II jet program.
The U.S. argued that the system could be used by Russia to covertly obtain classified details on the Lockheed Martin F-35 jets and is incompatible with NATO systems. Turkey, however, insists that the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO systems and would not pose a threat to the alliance.
Previous talks between Turkey and the U.S. on the purchase of Patriots collapsed over a host of issues, from the S-400s to Ankara's dissatisfaction with Washington's terms. Turkey has said it will only agree to an offer if it includes a technology transfer and joint production terms.
Ankara has repeatedly stressed it was the U.S.' refusal to sell Patriots that led it to seek other sellers, adding that Russia had offered a better deal, including technology transfers. Turkey even proposed setting up a commission to clarify any technical issues. During a visit to Washington last November, Erdoğan met with his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump and agreed on setting up a working group.