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S-400 Can Support Air Defense System of a NATO Member

S-400 Can Support Air Defense System of a NATO Member

Commenting on the development of Russian-Turkish ties in light of current tensions between Ankara and NATO during an interview with Sputnik, former Turkish lawmaker Ismail Safi stressed that both Ankara and Moscow should show a balanced approach to the issue.

In recent years, tensions between Ankara and other NATO alliance members, particularly Washington, have escalated amid an array of political differences, such as US support for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara sees as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a terrorist group banned in Turkey.

Touching upon Ankara’s relations with NATO, Ismail Safi, who currently serves as head of the Istanbul-based GUVSAM think tank, recalled in an interview with Sputnik that “Turkey has been part of NATO for 50 years, but during this period it hasn’t received any real support from its allies in the Alliance.”

Safi also blamed Turkey’s NATO allies for strongly supporting YPG units, something that Safi said is “an absolutely unacceptable state of affairs for both Turkish authorities and our people.”

In late June, Wess Mitchell, US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, warned that Washington might not hand over the US F-35 fifth-generation fighters to Turkey if it goes ahead with its planned purchase of S-400 missile defense systems from Russia.

Pointing to Ankara’s interest in the F-35 project, he stressed that  Turkey “needs to look for new opportunities pertaining to the development of its national defense sector, something that he said is reflected in an agreement on the purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense systems.

“The S-400 is a project capable of supporting the air defense system of a NATO member country, and it can also protect interests of NATO allies. This is our vision of the situation,” Safi noted.

He also made it plain that even though “Turkey is located on the front line of confrontation between the West and the East, Ankara will never again agree to become a ‘Western gendarme’.”

“Turkey has turned away from neither the West nor the East, and if Ankara starts to closely cooperate with one of the parties, it will make a historic mistake. Turkey needs to develop even closer military, economic and social ties with Russia, China and Iran while not turning away from the West,” Safi stressed.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gestures as he talks during the closing news conference following the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation's Extraordinary Summit in Istanbul, Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017

© AP PHOTO / EMRAH GUREL

Dwelling on Russian-Turkish ties, he warned of “forces which are dissatisfied with the rapidly developing Turkish-Russian cooperation and which will try their best to hamper this collaboration.””This is why we need to be vigilant and act reasonably in order to further maintain our relations at the proper high level,” Safi underlined.

He added that thanks to its cooperation with Russia, Turkey has managed “to find a field of activity that meets its interests on Syrian territory.”

“Russia also gained the opportunity to strengthen its positions in Syria. I believe that this [bilateral cooperation] will be useful and beneficial for both parties in the future,” Safi pointed out.

Originally published in https://sputniknews.com/analysis/201807111066257758-russia-turkey-relations-s-400-systems/

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