Senator Lankford Statement on US Sanctions on Turkey

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) issued the following statement on the announcement from the Administration to impose sanctions on Turkey:

“For two years, Turkey unjustly held US pastor Andrew Brunson, and the Trump Administration, at my request, responded with sanctions. When Turkey tried to purchase both Russian and US military equipment, we pushed to stop the transfer of the US F-35 technology to Turkey. Now, as Turkey continues to turn their back on the region it is right that the US should respond with the appropriate consequences when foreign allies make ill-advised military advances instead of promoting peace in the region.

“Turkey has aggressively moved into Syria causing civilian casualties, additional refugees, and has caused the release of multiple ISIS prisoners. The damage to the Turkish economy from the US sanctions is clearly the responsibility of the Turkish leadership, which has attacked the Kurds and made a bad situation in Syria even worse.”

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 after a number of human rights violations, including the unjust imprisonment of American pastor, Andrew Brunson. Pastor Brunson was released in October 2018 after being detained for two years. 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. This year, 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 Senate-passed FY2020 defense bill to prohibit the transfer of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft to Turkey. 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.

Senator Lankford is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.