WASHINGTON – In response to news that Turkey began receiving the first shipment of the Russian S-400 surface-to-air-missile system, U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and today released the following statement:
“By accepting delivery of the S-400 from Russia, President Erdogan has chosen a perilous partnership with Putin at the expense of Turkey’s security, economic prosperity and the integrity of the NATO alliance.
“On a strong bipartisan basis, Congress has made it clear that there must be consequences for President Erdogan’s misguided S-400 acquisition, a troubling signal of strategic alignment with Putin’s Russia and a threat to the F-35 program. As a result, we urge President Trump to fully implement sanctions as required by law under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. Additionally, while all F-35 material deliveries remain indefinitely suspended, we call on the Department of Defense to proceed with the termination of Turkey’s participation in the F-35 program.
“It did not have to come to this. But 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.
“Turkey is an important NATO ally, and we hope that the strategic relationship between the United States and Turkey will overcome this setback. 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.”
Background: On April 9, 2019, Senators Menendez, Risch, Reed, and Inhofe co-authored an op-ed in the New York Times entitled, “A U.S. Fighter Jet or a Russian Missile System. Not Both.” On June 27, 2019, the Senate approved the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 with an 86-8 vote. The legislation contained provision prohibiting the transfer of F-35 aircraft to Turkey should it accept delivery of the S-400. A floor amendment to the bill was also adopted, which called on the President to fully implement sanctions against Turkey should it accept delivery of the S-400.