By Muhammet Emin Avundukluoglu
ANKARA (AA) - Turkey bought the Russian S-400 air defense system not intending to attack but to defend the country, a top official of the ruling Justice and Development said on Friday.
"The start of shipments of Russian S-400s is a result of Turkey's firm stance based on its sovereignty rights," Bulent Turen, the AK Party’s deputy chair, told Anadolu Agency.
Turkey purchased the S-400 air defense systems for its security needs, said Turan, a lawmaker from the western Canakkale province.
He called on the international community to respect Turkey's sovereignty rights.
"We purchased this system not intending to attack but to defend the country," he explained.
The first shipments of the Russian S-400 missile defense system hardware to the capital Ankara started on Friday.
Following protracted efforts to purchase an air defense system from the U.S. with no success, Ankara signed a contract in 2017 to purchase the Russian S-400s.
U.S. officials urged Turkey to buy U.S. Patriot missiles, arguing the Russian system would be incompatible with NATO systems and expose the F-35s to possible Russian subterfuge.
Turkey, however, emphasized the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO systems and would not pose a threat to the alliance.
Turkey has urged formation of a commission to clarify any technical issues, but the U.S. has failed to respond to this proposal.
The U.S. has threatened sanctions over the purchase, with Turkey responding that any sanctions would be met in kind.