- The Washington Times
Sunday, July 14, 2019

The lead Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee says Turkey’s acquisition of the Russian-made S-400 missile system is “very problematic.”

Speaking to Fox News on Sunday, Rep. Michael T. McCaul, Texas Republican, said he met with Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and other Turkish leaders and “warned them, just as Secretary Pompeo did, that you can’t have it both ways.”

“You can’t be a NATO ally and buy Russian military equipment,” he said.

Turkey announced Friday that it had received the first shipment of the Russian system and ignored several U.S. warnings.

Washington has demanded repeatedly that Ankara not follow through with the S-400 deal, reportedly worth upward of $2 billion. Top officials in the White House, Pentagon and State Department have stressed that the U.S. could impose economic sanctions in response to the agreement.

Turkish officials argue that President Trump has taken a different tack in private, including during recent conversations at the Group of 20 summit in Japan. They said Mr. Trump has indicated to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that no sanctions would be imposed and that the U.S. wants to work with Turkey on the issue.

Trump administration officials over the weekend reportedly chose a sanctions package for Turkey and planned to announce it this week, according to Bloomberg News.

In a brief statement upon the announcement of the Russian delivery, the Turkish Defense Ministry said the “transfer of the first group materials of S-400 Long Range Regional Air and Missile Defense System” began Friday. Russian media outlets also reported that the deliveries had started, a development that marks a turning point in a yearslong standoff between the U.S. and Turkey.

The Russian Ministry of Defense on Sunday tweeted that it had sent the “implementation part” of the S-400 to Ankara.

Turkish media outlet Anadolu Agency announced early Sunday that the fifth installment of the Russian system had arrived at Murted Airfield Command just northwest of Ankara, and the sixth and seventh installments were scheduled to arrive later in the day.

Concerns are rising that NATO member Turkey is deepening its ties with Russia, potentially marking a power shift in the region.

The latest developments were announced one day before the third anniversary of Turkey’s 2016 failed coup against Mr. Erdogan that resulted in the deaths of about 300 people.

Mr. McCaul said Mr. Erdogan is “making a serious mistake” and urged him to reject the Russian sale and buy American.

The Trump administration maintains that the S-400 is incompatible with NATO defense systems and specifically cannot be used in conjunction with American F-35 fighter jets.

The ranking member of the committee explained that the Russian system can be used to spy on and shoot down the F-35 aircraft.

“You cannot have both of them in the same country,” Mr. McCaul said.

Officials have said that delivery of the S-400 missile system would mean Turkey no longer has access to the F-35 program.

Ben Wolfgang contributed to this report.

• Lauren Toms can be reached at lmeier@washingtontimes.com.

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