THE LATEST: Lankford Successful in Call for Sanctions on Turkey

WASHINGTON, DC– Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today applauded a move by President Trump at the recommendation of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and through the US Department of Treasury to impose Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) sanctions against Turkey for the procurement of the Russian S-400 missile system.

“This is absolutely the right first step in the right direction,” said Lankford. “Turkey is a NATO ally but is not behaving like one. They continue to compromise our national security by engaging with Russia. Today’s action further demonstrates to President Erdogan that what they’re doing is unacceptable. I appreciate the Administration’s engagement with Congress to assess the available diplomatic options for addressing Turkey’s recalcitrance. Now that we have taken this important step, I hope Turkey will carefully consider their next move—hopefully back toward their friends in the US. The United States should also impose targeted sanctions on officials and entities responsible for the purchase and use of the S-400 if Turkey does not reverse course.” 

Lankford first called for targeted sanctions on Turkish officials in an appropriations bill in 2018 and days later introduced a bill to prevent the transfer of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft to Turkey. He secured his plan to remove Turkey from participation in the F-35 program in the initial Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Congress’s annual defense bill. In 2019, Lankford led a group of his colleagues to introduce a bill that would prohibit the transfer of the F-35 aircraft to Turkey if they accepted delivery of Russia’s S-400 air defense system, which would compromise US technology for Turkey to own both. After the bill was introduced, the Pentagon announced it would suspend deliveries of the F-35 to Turkey. 

Lankford’s proposal to prohibit the transfer of the F-35 aircraft to Turkey was included in the annual defense bill for Fiscal Year 2020. He spoke on the Senate floor in 2019 in support of the FY20 NDAA, specifically addressing the need for the US to prevent the transfer of the F-35 to Turkey if they have the S-400 system sitting right next to it. Lankford later supported the FY20 NDAA, which played a key role to address the issues with transferring the F-35 to Turkey. Turkey moved forward to accept the Russian Air Defense Systemto which Lankford responded with disappointment. 

After multiple warnings to Turkey, Lankford continued to push Administration officials on the need to ensure the F-35 technology was not transferred to the nation, including pushing the head of DOD when they delayed removing Turkey from contributing to the F-35 supply chain. Following reports of Turkey’s use of the S-400 in October 2020, Lankford urged the Administration to impose CAATSA sanctions as required by law. Lankford recently penned an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal to express his support for the use of CAATSA sanctions as a vital tool in the diplomatic arsenal to press Turkey on their engagement with Russia.