Spokesman for Turkey's governing Justice and Development Party, led by the country's president Recep Tayyp Erdogan, Omer Celik has said that by buying Russian S-400 systems, Turkey ensures not only its own security, but also that of NATO and the EU. He noted that although they were primarily ordered to protect the country from strikes, coming from Syrian territory, the S-400 will also serve to protect European and NATO-states' borders.
The spokesman noted that Ankara had been forced to look for options to boost its air defences after "some NATO allies" withdrew their Patriot systems from Turkish territory. Celik recalled that due to that move, Turkey had little to counter missile launches coming from Syrian soil and that no partner had made an offer to Ankara in order to prevent further attacks.
The JDP representative also called out western double standards, noting that another NATO ally, Greece, had S-300 systems on its territory without any issues, while Turkey has confronted obstacles, when it tries to buy S-400s. He argued that Turkey is a sovereign nation and that it is "wrong" to dictate to it, whether to use Russian air defence systems or not.
Furthermore, Celik reiterated earlier statements by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, saying that Ankara had picked the Russian air defence systems because Washington's offer for the acquisition of the Patriot system didn't suit Turkey. He reaffirmed that S-400s will be delivered in July 2019 and that Turkey is not going to backtrack on the deal with Russia.
Turkey's NATO ally, the US, has been trying to persuade Ankara to drop the S-400 deal threatening to halt F-35 supplies and to impose economic sanctions against it. In the most recent development, US Vice President Mike Pence warned Turkey that it has a choice either to buy S-400 or to stay in the NATO alliance, hinting at its possible exclusion from it.
Washington fears S-400 systems won't be compatible with the air defence grid in the rest of the alliance and that they will expose the F-35's weaknesses to Moscow. Ankara has slammed the US moves as blackmail and demanded a timely delivery of its F-35 jets. Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly said that Turkey will not drop the S-400 deal with Russia and expects the first shipment in July of this year.