07.23.19

Senator Lankford Attends White House Meeting on Turkey

WASHINGTON, DC - Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today issued the following statement after he met with President Trump at the White House on Turkey sanctions:

“Several years ago, the United States sent a clear message to our ally, Turkey, that they cannot have both the F-35 and a Russian air defense system. Turkey is a NATO ally, and we have a strong history of peacekeeping efforts in the region and economic partnership. It is disappointing that they chose to turn to Russia and neglect their allies when they accepted the S-400 Russian defense technology. It is my hope that we can strengthen our relationship, but sanctions are an appropriate step for the US to take if they persist in their support of Russia. Turkey has turned away from religious freedom and human rights at the same moment that they have turned toward Russia. I will continue to encourage President Trump to ensure our allies are not acquiring major weapons systems from Russia’s defense sector.”

Background

In April 2018, Senators Lankford, Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) introduced a bill to prevent the transfer of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft to Turkey. The same Senators secured a provision in the FY2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that directed the Secretary of Defense to submit a plan to Congress that removed Turkey from participation in the F-35 program. In the 116th Congress, Lankford, Shaheen, Tillis, and Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) introduced a bill to prohibit the transfer of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft to Turkey until the US certifies that Turkey would not purchase Russian S-400 air defense system. Days after the bill was introduced, the Pentagon announced they suspended F-35 equipment to Turkey. The same group of bipartisan Senators cosponsored a provision to the defense bill to prohibit the transfer of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft to Turkey. Last week, the Senators responded to the news that Turkey had accepted the Russian Air Defense System and responded to the White House statement on Turkey accepting the Russian S-400.

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