- The Washington Times
Thursday, October 8, 2020

A bipartisan pair of Senators is urging Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to slap sanctions on Turkey after reports claimed Ankara tested a Russian-made missile defense system to track American-made F-16 fighter jets.

To Congress’ dismay last year, Turkey purchased the S-400 missile defense system from Russia that the U.S. and NATO warned could undercut the effectiveness of the American fighter jets and weaken the alliance.

In a letter to Mr. Pompeo Wednesday, Sens. Chris Van Hollen, Maryland Democrat, and James Lankford, Oklahoma Republican, renewed calls for sanctions on Ankara citing the latest reports that Turkey used the Russian system to detect the American jets returning from military exercises that included France, Italy, Greece and Cyprus.

The drills were taking place in response to a spike in tension between Turkey and Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.

“Reports of this activation make clear that Turkey has no intention of reversing course and divesting of this system,” the senators said.

Despite sweeping, bipartisan calls for penalties on Turkey for acquiring the Russian system last year, the White House has yet to formally punish Ankara outside of removing Turkey from the F-35 joint manufacturing program.

But the lawmakers hit back at the Pentagon’s “slow pace” in removing Turkey from the F-35 supply chain, which they said has “no doubt emboldened President Erdogan.

Turkey‘s recent reported activation of the S-400 system to detect the U.S. F-16 underscores our grave concerns about Russia‘s ability to access sensitive data,” they said.

The senators requested clarification on the reports and demanded that Mr. Pompeo provide information on whether Turkey used the S-400 to detect F-16 jets and if Turkey has integrated NATO systems into the S-400. Russia is not a member of the NATO alliance.

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