NATO does not object to Turkey’s S-400 purchase - foreign minister

While the United States criticised Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile system, NATO did not raise any objection the move, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Saturday.

In fact, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg repeatedly said all countries had the right to buy the weapon and defence system of their choice, state-run Anadolu News Agency quoted Çavuşoğlu as saying at the 5th MED 2019-Mediterranean Forum in Italy.

Ankara and Moscow in Sept. 2017 signed a loan agreement for the supply of Russian S-400 air defence systems to Turkey. The United States and its NATO allies see the Russian system as incompatible with NATO systems and posing a security threat to the F-35 stealth fighter. Turkey began to take delivery of S-400 components in late July, prompting Washington to remove Turkey from the F-35 fighter jets programme, in which it was a producer and buyer.

Washington has also threatened Turkey with sanctions over the purchase.

"The U.S. criticised us, however, NATO did not say anything. On the contrary, NATO secretary-general [Jens Stoltenberg] repeatedly stated all countries have the right to buy the weapon and defence system they want," the Turkish foreign minister said. 

Çavuşoğlu also dismissed reports of Turkey altering he demographic structure of northern Syria, where it launched a military offensive targeting Kurdish forces in October.

The international community should focus on the reconstruction of the war-torn region instead of conducting a smear campaign against Ankara, Çavuşoğlu said. 

Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring on Oct. 9 to clear northern Syria of Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG), which it sees as a threat due to their links to a decades-long Kurdish insurgency on its own soil.  

Ankara plans to resettle millions of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees it hosts in the predominantly Kurdish region.