By Muhammet Emin Avundukluoglu
ANKARA (AA) - A Turkish opposition leader said Wednesday that purchasing the Russian S-400 air defense systems is not only a matter of national security.
"[...] it is an indispensable part of our [Turkish] statehood," said Devlet Bahceli, head of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) at his party’s parliamentary group meeting in the capital Ankara.
"Whether the U.S. likes it or not, the purchase of S-400 is a question of our existence," he said.
Turkey is set to receive the missile systems by July, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday.
Tensions between the U.S. and Turkey have escalated in recent months over the S-400 purchase, which Washington said will jeopardize Turkey's role in the F-35 fighter jet program and could trigger sanctions.
Following protracted efforts to purchase an air defense system from the U.S. with no success, Ankara decided 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.