Russian S-400 Systems to Increase Ankara's Defence Capability - Turkish Lawmakers, Retired Officers

© Sputnik / Evgeny Odinokov / Go to the mediabankRussian S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile systems
Russian S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile systems  - Sputnik International
The first batch of Russian S-400 air defence system components was brought to Turkey last week. Moscow and Ankara signed a loan agreement for the delivery of S-400 systems in December 2017.

Turkey's cooperation with Russia on the matter has been strongly criticized by the United States and NATO, which have cited concerns over the S-400s incompatibility with NATO's air defence systems.

In particular, the United States claims that S-400 systems may compromise the F-35 stealth jet project. Washington announced in June that it would not accept more Turkish pilots for F-35 training unless Turkey abandoned the agreement with Russia.

Turkey, in turn, has insisted that it is not going to give up its $2.5 billion contract with Russia.

Turkish parliamentarians and experts have shared their insights on the first deliveries of Russian S-400 air defence system components to Turkey.

İsmet Yılmaz, a lawmaker from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), who heads Parliament's National Defence Committee, stressed that the S-400 complexes will make a great contribution to the modernisation of Turkey’s defence system and will serve purely for defensive purposes.

“We are convinced that the purchase of this defence system will make a significant contribution to the development of the defence potential of our country. Our main goal is to ensure the security of our territory, our borders, and the acquired systems will be used exclusively for this purpose”, he said.

Chairman of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey’s Committee on Internal Affairs Celalettin Güvenç, another prominent Turkish politician from the AKP, commenting on the S-400 delivery, stressed that “with every foreign policy step, Turkey demonstrates its independent position as a sovereign state to the world community”.

As for possible sanctions against Turkey by the United States, Güvenç noted that “this issue will be resolved through negotiations with the American side”.

Hasan Turan, a ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party deputy in Istanbul also stressed the independence of Turkey in political and economic spheres and pointed out that the S-400 systems will primarily serve to protect Turkey’s southern border, from possible attacks and threats.

“Turkey’s purchase of S-400 systems will significantly increase its military power and keep some from sleeping soundly. It must be clearly understood that these systems are of a defensive nature, not offensive. They will be used against elements that threaten our airspace. We are not willing to bow in the face of threats, and the S-400 deliveries have once again demonstrated this. The primary task of the Turkish government is to protect our territory and sovereignty from all sorts of threats and dangers”, he underlined.

Deputy Speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey from the AKP faction, Naci Bostancı, answering questions about Turkey's possible actions if Washington responds to the acquisition of the S-400s with sanctions.

“Let's see how events will develop in the future. I believe that no decisive steps in this regard will follow. The fact is that decisions should be rational and practice-oriented. After all, the issue is not the decision of Turkey to purchase air defence systems, the question lies in the strategy of how the competition for weapons systems will be conducted on a global scale. With this in mind, it is quite obvious that the initiative to impose sanctions on Turkey does not correspond to the logic of the free market and competitive strategies which apply to all global players. We should not forget that any attempt to build an economic strategy using tools of pressure and force, and at the same time trying to win initiatives in the economic sphere, means the weakening of economic potential and resources. In this regard, I personally do not expect the imposition of sanctions by the United States.

Former Turkish Air Force officer Mesut Hakkı Caşin noted that Turkey, by purchasing the Russian S-400 complexes, made an important statement to the entire world community.

“By this, Turkey has demonstrated its strategic position in the emerging new world order and stressed that it intends to follow a policy of multipolarity in international relations”.

Caşin also noted that the decision to acquire the S-400s is not political, but is due to the country's urgent needs in the area of national defence.

“By purchasing S-400s, Turkey gained a significant advantage in air defence. This is a very important point. President Erdogan has declared co-production and technology transfer a priority, and President Putin has confirmed this. Thus, a step has been taken towards further developing multi-faceted Turkish-Russian cooperation”, he stressed.

Retired Lt. Gen. İsmail Hakkı Pekin, who served as the head of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) Intelligence Department, in his turn, called the S-400 deliveries to Turkey a “turning point”.

“Turkey, despite pressure from NATO and the United States, in accordance with its decision, has acquired a weapons system that it needs. Such an agreement has been executed for the first time since 12 July 1947, when Turkey signed an agreement within the framework of the Truman Doctrine. For the first time, a weapons system of such a high strategic level has been. From now on, Turkey and Russia will actively strengthen and expand both trade relations and military-technical cooperation", he said.

In response to questions regarding the nature of the threats that will potentially be addressed by the air defence system, Pekin said.

“All neighbouring countries in the region have missiles. The threat could arise from anywhere. A serious threat to Turkey currently stems from NATO. This applies to Syria, the Eastern Mediterranean, and Cyprus. How can we ensure the safety of ships sent to the waters of Cyprus to search for hydrocarbons? Turkey had to take action. It was a long-overdue necessity. The acquisition of these defensive systems is important from a psychological point of view, as a deterrent. Anyone who sees them will not want to go on the offensive”, he concluded.

Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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