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Turkey Says It Remains Dependable NATO Ally Despite Russian Missile Deal

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan

Turkey says it remains a dependable NATO ally after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dismissed Western concerns over Ankara's purchase of antiaircraft missile systems from Russia.

Erdogan’s spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, told a news conference on September 14 that Ankara’s good relations with Moscow do not represent a break from the West, despite what he caused the “discomfort” expressed by some allies.

Turkey raised concerns among NATO allies after it announced on September 12 that it signed a deal to buy S-400 surface-to-air missile systems from Russia, its most significant weapons purchase from a non-NATO supplier. The deal is worth an estimated $2.5 billion.

The accord has raised concerns in the West over technical compatibility with NATO equipment.

The Pentagon has said that "generally it's a good idea" for NATO allies to buy interoperable equipment.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on September 12 that "if Turkey were to buy these S-400s, as is being reported...that would, of course, be a concern of ours."

Erdogan dismissed Western concerns in a September 13 address to his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Ankara.

“They have gone mad because we signed an S-400 deal there,” he said. “So what?"

"We will take matters into our own hands," he added.

Based on reporting by dpa and Reuters