05:31 GMT14 August 2020
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    Ankara's agreement with Russia to purchase S-400 surface-to-air defence missile systems has been a major source of tension between Turkey and the United States, as Washington has warned Ankara of possible sanctions if the deal goes through.

    Omer Celik, a spokesperson for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), has reiterated that Turkey is unwavering in its determination to reinforce air defence systems in response to continued threats arising from Syria, Iraq and the eastern Mediterranean, reports the Anadolu news agency.

    Speaking at a news conference after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s meeting with AKP lawmakers at the party's Istanbul branch, Celik said enhancing the country’s air defence system was a “requirement of national security as a sovereign state.”

    The AKP spokesman engaged the support of Turkey's allies regarding the S-400 issue, saying:

    “The protection of Turkey’s borders is the protection of the borders of NATO and Europe, as well as it is for Turkey’s national security.”

    When asked where the S-400s would be deployed, Celik said: “The system will be deployed in a way to meet Turkey's need at a maximum level.”

    Ankara's deal with Moscow over the S-400 surface-to-air defence missile system has long been a major source of tension between Turkey and the US.

    During the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, President Erdogan said Donald Trump told him there would be no sanctions targeting Turkey after it receives the S-400 defence systems.

    At the summit, Trump blamed the standoff on then-President Barack Obama's refusal to sell Patriot missiles to Turkey, and said Turkey had not been treated fairly.

    In a joint presser with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Trump said Turkey “was not allowed to buy Patriot missiles by the Obama administration” and his administration was looking at various options regarding its purchase of Russia’s S-400 missiles.

    "Turkey is a NATO member and was not treated fairly," Trump said.

    When asked about possible sanctions against Turkey, Trump said “we are looking at it, but it’s a two-way street”.

    Russian-Turkish cooperation on S-400 deliveries has been repeatedly criticised by the US, as it urged Turkey to buy US Patriot missiles, arguing the Russian system would be incompatible with NATO and could result in punitive sanctions.

    After protracted unsuccessful efforts to purchase an air defence system from the US under the Obama administration, Ankara opted in 2017 to purchase Russian S-400s, while emphasising the system would not be integrated into NATO and would not pose a threat to the alliance.

    The first shipment of S-400 air defence systems is expected to be delivered to Ankara in July.


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