Senior Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives again today called on Turkey to cancel its planned acquisition of a Russian S-400 missile defense system, the latest effort by U.S. lawmakers to discourage Ankara from pursuing the deal.
They introduced a resolution urging Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to avoid a military relationship with Russia that could jeopardize the U.S.-Turkey partnership and Turkey’s role in NATO.
“Cozying up to Vladimir Putin is unacceptable,” Democratic Representative Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement.
U.S. officials have urged Turkey to cancel its purchase of the S-400 system or risk its position as both a prospective buyer and partner in production of the Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jet. They say Turkey’s plan to buy the S-400 would compromise the security of the jets and want Ankara to buy a U.S. missile defense system instead.
Members of Congress have tried a variety of approaches to convince Turkey to cancel the sale, including introducing legislation that would bar the federal government from spending any money to deliver any F-35 jets to Turkey.
No S-400s delivery postponement, no working group
At the same time, Ankara ruled out the prospect of delaying a scheduled July delivery of the S-400s, demanding a working group to supposedly study the impact of the missiles on US weapons systems.
Washington will not entertain the idea of a working group without a prior postponement of the delivery.
On 13 May, a source familiar with the matter said the United States had asked Turkey to delay taking delivery of the S-400 system, currently scheduled for July, in return for potentially approving the formation of the working group.
Ankara digs in its heels
“There is no such thing as postponing or cancelling at this stage,” Cavusoglu said. “It’s not on the agenda either.”
The disagreement is the latest in a series of diplomatic disputes between the United States and Turkey. They include Turkish demands that Washington extradite cleric Fethullah Gulen, differences over Middle East policy and the war in Syria, and sanctions on Iran.
Congressional ultimatum to Turkey
In the latest harsh warning to Ankara, top House of Representatives Republicans and Democrats shepherded a very strongly-worded resolution on Turkey calling for full implementation of sanctions and demanding cancellation of the S-400s order.
House Resolution 372 of 10 May, 2010 is entitled “Expressing concern for the United States-Turkey alliance” and reads as follows:
That the House of Representatives—
fully supports the United States Government’s January 2019 offer to sell the Patriot air and missile defense systems to Turkey, with the condition that Turkey not acquire the S–400 air and missile defense system from Russia;
condemns the Government of Turkey’s stated decision to acquire the Russian S–400 air and missile defense system, which would endanger the integrity of the United States-Turkey alliance and undermine NATO;
calls for terminating Turkey’s participation in the F–35 industrial program and delivery of F–35 aircraft to Turkey if Turkey acquires the Russian S–400 air and missile defense system;
declares that Turkish acquisition of the Russian S–400 air and missile defense system would constitute a significant transaction within the meaning of section 231 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act of 2017 (22 U.S.C. 9525);
calls for full implementation of sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act of 2017 if Turkey acquires the Russian S–400 air and missile defense system; and
calls on the Government of Turkey to cancel the acquisition of the Russian S–400 air and missile defense system.