Ankara has repeatedly said S-400 defence missiles will not affect NATO systems. Russia, Iran, and Azerbaijan have all criticised "unfair" US sanctions on Turkey.

A view shows a new S-400
A view shows a new S-400 "Triumph" surface-to-air missile system after its deployment at a military base outside the town of Gvardeysk near Kaliningrad, Russia, March 11, 2019. (Reuters)

Turkey has condemned the US sanctions over Ankara's purchase of S-400 air defence missiles from Russia, saying it will take necessary steps and respond to Washington's "bad mistake".

Turkey's Foreign Ministry said in a statement it "condemns and rejects" the US sanctions, saying Washington's one-sided sanctions were beyond understanding and reiterating that the S-400s will not affect NATO systems.

"Turkey will take the necessary steps against this decision, which will inevitably affect our relations in a negative way, and reciprocate in a way and time it sees fit," the statement said.

The ministry called on Washington to "turn back as soon as possible from this grave mistake", adding that Ankara was ready for dialogue and diplomacy.

The sanctions target Turkey’s Presidency of Defence Industries, the country's military procurement agency, its chief Ismail Demir and three other senior officials. 

The penalties block any assets the four officials may have in US jurisdictions and bar their entry into the US. They also include a ban on most export licenses, loans, and credits to the agency.

READ MORE: The double standards of America's sanctions threat to Turkey

'Unreasonable, fruitless' decision

Criticising Washington's move, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said the sanctions will only boost the country's determination on steps to strengthen its national interests and defence industry under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"No country's sanctions will sway Turkey's determined stance. We condemn this decision and call on the US to step back from this mistake as soon as possible," Oktay said on Twitter.

Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin also stressed Turkey’s determined stance in the face of sanctions, adding that Turkey will decisively continue to take steps to achieve its defence industry goals.

Turkey's Communications Director Fahrettin Altun said the US decision to impose sanctions were "unreasonable, fruitless, and ultimately incompatible with the spirit of our partnership".

He added that instead of sanctions, Ankara expects its NATO ally to support it in its fight against terrorists and third parties that pursue their self-interested agendas in our neighbourhood.

Hoping that Washington would soon reverse its "grave mistake," Altun said Turkey-US ties are "far too important to be sacrificed for short-term political goals and to appease anti-Turkey lobbies".

Turkey is determined to achieve a fully independent defence industry under the leadership of its President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the head of the Turkish Defence Industries Presidency said.

"No decision taken abroad towards myself or our institution will change the stance of me or my team," Ismail Demir tweeted after the US Treasury announced its sanctions. "The sanctions will not be able to hinder the Turkish defence industry in any way," he added.

Delicate timing

The move comes at a delicate time in relations between Washington and Ankara.

The US had previously left Turkey out of its F-35 stealth fighter development and training programme over the purchase but had taken no further steps despite persistent warnings from American officials who have long complained about the purchase of the S-400, which they claim is incompatible with NATO equipment and a potential threat to allied security.

"The United States made clear to Turkey at the highest levels and on numerous occasions that its purchase of the S-400 system would endanger the security of US military technology and personnel and provide substantial funds to Russia’s defence sector, as well as Russian access to the Turkish armed forces and defence industry," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

"Turkey nevertheless decided to move ahead with the procurement and testing of the S-400, despite the availability of alternative, NATO-interoperable systems to meet its defence requirements," he said in a statement.

"I urge Turkey to resolve the S-400 problem immediately in coordination with the United States," he said. 

"Turkey is a valued ally and an important regional security partner for the United States, and we seek to continue our decades-long history of productive defence-sector cooperation by removing the obstacle of Turkey's S-400 possession as soon as possible."

READ MORE: Fake news campaign aimed at Turkey S-400 test makes tall claims

Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan condemn US

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov condemned the US decision, calling it "another manifestation of an arrogant attitude towards international law, a manifestation of illegitimate, unilateral coercive measures that the US has been using for many years, already decades, left and right."

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev called the US decision "unacceptable."

"Imposing sanctions on Turkey is unfair while some other NATO members [Greece] are using similar air defence systems," Hikmet Hajiyev, the assistant to the president and foreign policy chief for Azerbaijan's Presidency, said in a statement.

Iran said US "addiction to sanctions" and contempt for international law was "at full display again".

"We strongly condemn recent US sanctions against Turkey and stand with its people and government," Iran's Foreign Minister Javed Zarif said.

Three NATO states use S-300 system 

Last month, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said Turkey was prepared to discuss with the US its "anxiety" over the interoperability of the S-400s and the F-35s. 

The US reacted cooly to the suggestion and Pompeo shortly thereafter pointedly did not meet with any Turkish government officials on a visit to Istanbul.

Ankara says it was forced to buy the Russian system because the US refused to sell it American-made Patriot missiles. 

The Turkish government has also pointed to what it considers a double standard, as NATO member Greece uses Russian-made missiles.

Moscow has sold the S-300 system to 20 countries, including three NATO member states Greece, Bulgaria and Slovakia. 

In 1996, Greece made a deal to purchase Russian S-300 missile defence systems. 

Also, in 1999 and 2004, Athens signed new agreements with Russia to purchase TOR-M1 and OSA AKM (SA-8B) medium and low-altitude air defence systems.

Russian-made air defence systems continue to remain in use as an integrated part of Greek air defence systems.

Both of the missile systems that are being used by Greece have radar systems that would pose a danger to NATO air forces. S-300s were initially developed for use against aircraft, but later it became capable of defending against ballistic missiles.

In 1994, even Washington secretly purchased the Russian made S-300s, according to the New York Times, in order to examine the system and develop its own Patriot systems. 

READ MORE: Pentagon 'deeply concerned' over reported Turkish S-400 test

Source: TRTWorld and agencies