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Erdogan denounces US sanctions as ‘hostile attack’ on Turkey's sovereign rights

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A handout picture taken and released on December 10, 2020 by the Turkish presidential press service shows President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attending a joint press conference with his Azerbaijani counterpart following their meeting in Baku. (Photo by AFP)

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has denounced the US sanctions imposed on Ankara over its purchase of advanced Russian S-400 missile defense systems as a “hostile attack” on the sovereign rights of his country.

On Monday, the US imposed sanctions on Turkey’s top defense procurement and development body Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB), its chairman Ismail Demir and three other Turkish defense officials, namely Mustafa Alper Deniz, Serhat Gencoglu and Faruk Yigit.

In his first public comments on the US move, Erdogan slammed Washington for targeting a NATO ally with sanctions.

"What kind of alliance is this? What kind of partnership is this? This decision is an open hostile attack against our country's sovereign rights," he said in a televised speech on Wednesday.

He vowed that Ankara would overcome the negative impacts of the sanctions, and would redouble its efforts to “make our defense industry independent”.

"The real goal is to block the advances our country started in the defense industry recently and to once again render us absolutely dependent on them," he said, adding "Surely there will be problems, but each problem will push open a door for us for a solution."

The US and Turkey have long been at loggerheads over Ankara’s purchase of the S-400 from Moscow under an agreement inked in 2017.

Washington first tried to kill the agreement by suspending Turkey from its advanced F-35 jet program, but to no avail.

Washington claims the activation of the S-400s would compromise NATO’s defenses and could give Russia access to intelligence about the American F-35 fighter jets and other military equipment.

Ankara, however, rejects the argument, saying the Russian-made systems will not be integrated into NATO’s command-and-control infrastructure, but rather “used as a standalone system.”

On Wednesday, Erdogan reiterated that the US concerns had no technical basis.

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