Senators urge Trump to sanction Turkey for accepting Russian missile shipment

Senators urge Trump to sanction Turkey for accepting Russian missile shipment

Top senators on Friday called on President TrumpDonald John TrumpChasten Buttigieg: 'I've been dealing with the likes of Rush Limbaugh my entire life' Lawmakers paint different pictures of Trump's 'opportunity zone' program We must not turn our heads from the effects of traumatic brain injuries MORE to impose sanctions on Turkey after the NATO ally accepted delivery of a Russian air defense missile system, a purchase U.S. officials fear could be used to gather intelligence on the American-made F-35. 

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan “has chosen a perilous partnership with [Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinRohrabacher tells Yahoo he discussed pardon with Assange for proof Russia didn't hack DNC email We should listen to John Bolton How impeachment damaged US foreign policy MORE] at the expense of Turkey’s security, economic prosperity and the integrity of the NATO alliance,” Sens. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeGOP chairman after Africa trip: US military drawdown would have 'real and lasting negative consequences' Overnight Energy: Controversial Trump adviser reportedly returning to EPA | Delta aims to be first carbon neutral airline | Dem senator gives EPA D-minus on 'forever chemicals' Architect of controversial EPA policies to return as chief of staff: report MORE (R-Okla.) and Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedLawmakers wary as US on cusp of initial deal with Taliban Pavlich: The Senate defends its integrity Five Senate Democrats make impeachment case in Spanish MORE (D-R.I.), the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Sens. Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischLawmakers wary as US on cusp of initial deal with Taliban Senators condemn UN 'blacklisting' of US companies in Israeli settlements Dairy industry doesn't own the word 'milk' MORE (R-Idaho) and Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezMenendez calls for 'Marie Yovanovitch bill' to protect foreign service employees Senators condemn UN 'blacklisting' of US companies in Israeli settlements Media's selective outrage exposed in McSally-Raju kerfuffle MORE (D-N.J.), the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement.

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The lawmakers urged Trump to impose Congressional sanctions as part of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which penalizes U.S. partners that buy Russian military equipment.

“On a strong bipartisan basis, Congress has made it clear that there must be consequences for President Erdogan’s misguided S-400 acquisition,” they said, referring to the surface-to-air missile defense system from Russia.  

The lawmakers also called on the Defense Department to proceed with the termination of Turkey’s participation in the F-35 program.

Ankara earlier on Friday took delivery of a shipment of the S-400.

Acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters Friday that the Pentagon was aware of the delivery and that he would speak to Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar later in the day.

The Pentagon announced in early June that it would pull Turkey from participation in building and maintaining the F-35 Lightning II fighter, moving industrial operations to other countries, unless Ankara gives up its plans to purchase S-400.

Turkey, one of nine partner countries involved in the F-35, has plans to eventually buy at least 100 of the advanced fighter jets and was expected to play a significant role in sustaining the aircraft in later years.

In the past year, however, Ankara has refused to be swayed from its plan to buy the S-400, which is not compatible with NATO systems. U.S. officials fear it will allow Moscow to gather closely guarded information on the Lockheed Martin-made F-35.

The department has already pulled Turkish applicants from a training program that teaches pilots to fly the F-35, and it ordered that all Turkish personnel linked to the F-35 program leave the United States by July 31.

Former acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said in a letter to the Turkish defense minister that the penalties would take place by July 31.

Administration officials hoped it would be able to convince Turkey to abandon the S-400 sale by instead offering Ankara the U.S.-developed Patriot air and missile defense system, made by Raytheon.

Turkey did not take the offer, however, as Washington will not relinquish the system’s sensitive missile technology.

“Unfortunately, President Erdogan rejected multiple attempts by the United States to preserve our strategic relationship while enabling Turkey to defend its airspace with F-35 aircraft and the Patriot air defense system,” the senators wrote.

“Turkey is an important NATO ally ... But lasting improvement to our cooperation will not be possible as long as President Erdogan remains fixated on deepening ties with Vladimir Putin at the expense of the economic prosperity of Turkey and the security of the NATO alliance,” they wrote.

In a separate statement, Sens. James LankfordJames Paul LankfordSenate drama surrounding Trump trial starts to fizzle The Hill's Morning Report - Trump defense rests, GOP struggles to bar witnesses GOP confident of win on witnesses MORE (R-Okla.), Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenOvernight Health Care: Appeals court strikes down Medicaid work requirements | Pelosi's staff huddles with aides on surprise billing | Senate Dems pressure Trump to drop ObamaCare lawsuit Senate Democrats pressure Trump to drop ObamaCare lawsuit Trump under pressure to renew last nuke treaty with Russia MORE (D-N.H.), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisDemocratic Senate campaign arm raised more than .5 million in January On the Trail: Senate GOP hopefuls tie themselves to Trump Ernst endorses bipartisan Grassley-Wyden bill to lower drug prices MORE (R-N.C.) and Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenSenate Dems blast Barr for 'clear violation' of duty in Stone case, urge him to resign Senate Democrats introduce legislation to change impeachment trial rules Warren asks for probe of whether Trump violated law by delaying Puerto Rico funds MORE (D-Md.) said the S-400 was “created to target and destroy” the F-35, and that the United States “will not allow sensitive U.S. military technology in the F-35 to be at risk.”

“Turkey cannot have both Russian and American defense equipment sitting side by side,” the senators wrote. “As long as President Erdogan insists on putting U.S. and NATO assets at risk by acquiring Russian defense technology, the U.S. will withhold our fifth-generation fighter jets and apply our normal restrictions on any government that purchases Russian military equipment.”

Lankford, Shaheen, Tillis and Van Hollen earlier this year led an effort to include a provision in the Senate’s version of the annual defense authorization bill to prohibit the transfer of the F-35 to Turkey should it buy the S-400.