ANKARA, July 11. /TASS/. The contract to buy S-400 anti-aircraft missile system from Russia was vital for ensuring Turkey’s national security, a spokesperson for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) said on Thursday.
"S-400 systems are a necessity [for ensuring] Turkey’s national security," AK Parti spokesman Omer Celik said.
Celik also responded to a statement by a deputy chairman of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Veli Agbaba, who accused the incumbent Turkish leadership of conducting "inconsistent foreign policy," and, therefore, turning Turkey into "one of the most reckless countries in the region."
Commenting on the criticism, Celik said that "CHP’s stance on the S-400 issue does not reflect national interests."
"They are only trying to justify the United States’ stance," he added.
The United States continues attempts to stop Turkey from purchasing S-400. Washington has stated that it will exclude Ankara from the F-35 program if Turkey buys the Russian-made systems. According to US officials, Russian missile systems may pose a threat for F-35 fighter jets earlier purchased by Turkey.
News about Russian-Turkish talks on the delivery of the S-400 systems first came in November 2016. In September 2017, Erdogan announced that Ankara had signed a contract with Moscow on purchasing the S-400 systems and made an advance payment. Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said later that Ankara would begin the deployment of the S-400 systems in October 2019. Russia’s Rostec State Corporation Sergei Chemezov said in December 2017 that the deal was worth $2.5 bln.
The S-400 Triumf (NATO reporting name: SA-21 Growler) is the most advanced long-range anti-aircraft missile system that went into service in 2007. It is designed to destroy aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles, including medium-range ones, and can also be used against ground objectives. The S-400 system can engage targets at a distance of 400 km and at an altitude of up to 35 km.