ANKARA (Sputnik) — The contract Ankara signed with Moscow on the purchase of S-400 air defense missile systems is not an alternative to Turkey's NATO membership, Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Thursday.
"We are developing good cooperation with Russia, but this is not an alternative to our relations with the West and NATO. On the contrary, they complement each other," Kalin told reporters.
Earlier in the day NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg also commented on the deal, saying that each NATO member state makes its own decision on the purchase of weapons.
On Tuesday, Erdogan said that Ankara had made the first payment for the Russian S-400 systems. The Pentagon told Sputnik later in the day that the US had informed Turkish authorities of its concerns over the country's purchase of the Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile systems, citing Ankara's membership in NATO as a reason for the state to defend itself by means of the alliance's "interoperable missile defense system."
When asked whether Turkey's membership in NATO would become an obstacle to S-400 deliveries, the Kremlin aide said earlier that "each party undertakes commitments determining what it has the right to do and what it cannot do with the delivered weapons.
The S-400 is Russia's next-generation air defense system. It carries three different types of missiles capable of destroying aerial targets at short-to-extremely-long ranges. It is designed to track and destroy various types of aerial targets, from reconnaissance aircraft to ballistic missiles.