SPONSORED:

Senators urge Trump to sanction Turkey for accepting Russian missile shipment

Senators urge Trump to sanction Turkey for accepting Russian missile shipment
© Getty Images

Top senators on Friday called on President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger, Gaetz get in back-and-forth on Twitter over Cheney vote READ: Liz Cheney's speech on the House floor Cheney in defiant floor speech: Trump on 'crusade to undermine our democracy' 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 PutinREAD: Liz Cheney's speech on the House floor Scarborough, Greenwald trade insults on Twitter over rise of Trump Congress may force Biden to stop Russia's Nord Stream 2 pipeline MORE] at the expense of Turkey’s security, economic prosperity and the integrity of the NATO alliance,” Sens. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate nixes Trump rule limiting methane regulation | Senate confirms EPA chief: Biden's climate goals are 'an opportunity to lead' | Fine-particle pollution disproportionately hurts people of color: research EPA chief: Biden's climate goals are 'an opportunity to lead' Senate confirms Pentagon policy chief criticized by Republicans for tweets MORE (R-Okla.) and Jack ReedJack ReedOvernight Defense: US fires 30 warning shots at Iranian boats | Kabul attack heightens fears of Afghan women's fates | Democratic Party leaders push Biden on rejoining Iran deal Overnight Defense: Former Navy secretary reportedly spent .4M on travel | Ex-Pentagon chief Miller to testify on Jan. 6 Capitol attack | Austin to deliver West Point commencement speech Overnight Defense: Gillibrand makes new push for military sexual assault reform | US troops begin leaving Afghanistan | Biden budget delay pushes back annual defense policy bill MORE (D-R.I.), the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Sens. Jim RischJim Elroy RischAny reduction in Energy Department's cybersecurity resources a mistake Biden cancels military-funded border wall projects Senate panel greenlights sweeping China policy bill MORE (R-Idaho) and Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezDemocrats reintroduce legislation to ban 'ghost guns' Juan Williams: A breakthrough on immigration? Biden rebuffs Democrats, keeps refugee admissions at 15,000 MORE (D-N.J.), the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 LankfordRubio and bipartisan group of senators push to make daylight saving time permanent Senate inches toward COVID-19 vote after marathon session Ron Johnson grinds Senate to halt, irritating many MORE (R-Okla.), Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenCongress may force Biden to stop Russia's Nord Stream 2 pipeline Kabul attack spurs fears over fate of Afghan women as US exits Bowser on Manchin's DC statehood stance: He's 'not right' MORE (D-N.H.), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisSenate hears from Biden's high-profile judicial nominees for first time Senate Democrats take aim at 'true lender' interest rate rule Former North Carolina chief justice launches Senate campaign MORE (R-N.C.) and Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenSenate votes to repeal OCC 'true lender' rule The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Congress drawn into pipeline cyberattack, violence in Israel The Memo: Outrage rises among liberals over Israel 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.