Turkey has exercised its sovereign rights by choosing Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Friday, saying he believes Turkey and the United States can continue to cooperate. for the benefit of the region and NATO.
Accompanied by Chief of General Staff Yaşar Güler, Land Forces Commander General Ümit Dündar and Air Force Commander General Hasan Küçükakyüz, Akar spoke at a ceremony in Kayseri province.
“We wanted to buy the Patriots from the United States and the SAMP-T from France-Italy, but this was not possible for various reasons,” Akar said, noting that air defense systems had become a necessity for Turkey facing increasing risks and threats.
Akar went on to say that the S-400 issue was a “national affair” and that Turkey exercised its sovereign rights by purchasing the system.
He also dismissed claims that Turkey preferred the S-400 to the Patriots even though the country had the option of purchasing the latter, as he explained that the United States had not responded positively to Turkey’s expectations. .
Reiterating that Turkey is ready to respond to Washington’s concerns, Akar said Ankara reassured them that the S-400 would only be used when needed.
“If no one intends to attack Turkey, it won’t hurt anyone,” Akar said, adding that some NATO member states also have Russian-made systems like the S-300.
“Technical solutions are possible and we have proposed a joint working group with the inclusion of NATO,” Akar said, adding that Washington’s sanctions against Turkey contradicted the spirit of alliance.
Ties between Turkey and the United States, NATO allies, were severely strained in 2019 following Ankara’s acquisition of the Russian S-400 advanced air defense system, prompting Washington to withdraw Turkey of its F-35 Lightning II aircraft program.
The United States has argued that the system could be used by Russia to secretly obtain classified details of Lockheed Martin F-35 jets and that it is incompatible with NATO systems. Turkey, however, insists that the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO systems and pose no threat to the alliance.
However, the Russian-made S-300 system was sold to 20 countries, including NATO member countries such as Bulgaria, Greece and Slovakia.
The S-300 system, completed in 1978, is designed to defend against short and medium range air attacks and is considered one of the most powerful air defense systems in the world.
In 1996 Greece signed an agreement with Russia for the purchase of S-300s to be deployed on Greek Cypriot soil.
Ankara has repeatedly pointed out that it was the United States’ refusal to sell its Patriot missile systems that led it to seek other sellers, adding that Russia had offered a better deal, including transfers of technology. Turkey even offered to set up a commission with the United States to clarify any technical issues.