Turkish Ambassador to the US Serdar Kilic has dismissed allegations that Ankara used the S-400 air defence systems bought from Russia in order to detect Greek F-16s in the Mediterranean Sea as they were returning from drills taking place in France, Italy, and Cyprus at the end of August 2020.
"That is out of the question. Even if [the S-400s] were tested, we, as a member of NATO, would coordinate such action through the alliance's military channels", Kilic said, while giving a speech at a conference organised by the non-profit organisation World Affairs Council.
The envoy once again reminded that Turkey has the right to self-defence and hence had the right to buy air defence systems from Russia, after Washington stalled the sale of Patriots for over three years. Kilic added that Turkey's security concerns were linked to the spread of what he called "mass destruction weapons", without delving into any details.
Kilic's statements come in the wake of claims made by two US Senators, Democrat Chris Van Hollen and Republican James Lankford, who urged the US Department of State to introduce sanctions against Turkey over the planned tests of the S-400 systems purchased from Moscow. They expressed concern over the "reports" that Turkey used the air defence systems to detect and track US-made F-16s on two occasions, including the Greek Air Force flights at the end of August.
The lawmakers also claim Turkey tested S-400 radars on its own F-16s as they flew over Ankara in 2019, without specifying the date. Van Hollen and Lankford alleged that due to these tests, Russia will be able to monitor the movements of NATO military forces, apparently referring to earlier unsubstantiated allegations by the American authorities. The White House repeatedly tried to dissuade Ankara from buying the S-400s, by claiming they will be incompatible with NATO's defence grid and would allegedly enable Moscow to find out weaknesses in the NATO aircraft. Both Russia and Turkey denied the claim that Moscow could spy on NATO via these air defence systems.