The US administration has been silent, so far, on the delivery of the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile system to Turkey. The opposite is true for Congress, where there has been bipartisan condemnation and demands for sanctions.
Acting US Defense Secretary Mark Esper did talk with his Turkish counterpart, Hulusi Akar, but then indefinitely delayed a scheduled official statement despite the fact that, before the call, he had said the US opposition on the acquisition of the S-400 had not changed.
Representative Eliot Engel, the Democrat chairing the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and Republican Michael McCaul, the Ranking Member released a joint statrement calling for sanctions on Turkey and canceling the sale of the F-35 fighter:
“We have warned Turkey and President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan time and time again that taking delivery of the Russian S-400 air and missile defense system would have serious consequences for the US-Turkey relationship, including Turkey’s participation in the F-35 program. We have warned them that obtaining the S-400 system would trigger sanctions. We have backed the Administration’s offer to sell the PATRIOT system to meet Turkey’s air and missile defense needs. President Erdogan was given a very clear choice. Unfortunately, he has clearly made the wrong one. That a NATO ally would choose to side with Russia and Vladimir Putin over the alliance and closer cooperation with the United States is hard to fathom. We call on the Department of State and the Department of Defense to terminate Turkey’s participation in the F-35 program and to sanction Turkish individuals doing business with the Russian defense sector, as required by law. Turkey and Erdogan must face stiff consequences for this decision.”
On Thursday, the US House of Representatives adopted, by a vote of 252-173, an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2020 offered by Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI) that would end theUS Arms Embargo in Cyprus. On Friday, the NDAA passed the House with the Cicilline amendment included.
“The Republic of Cyprus has long been a key ally in the fight against terrorism and emerging threats in Europe, but for more than 25 years, this embargo has not reflected the strength and importance of that relationship ... Ending this outdated policy by passing my amendment is critical in maintaining stability in the region and a strategic partner for generations to come. I thank my colleagues for their continued support of the US-Cyprus relationship and for their support of my amendment,” Cicilline said before the vote.