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US Congressmen send letter to Blinken on S-400 and Turkey

Featured US Congressmen send letter to Blinken on S-400 and Turkey

18 American congressmen express their strong concern about the possible acquisition of additional S-400 by Turkey in a letter sent to the Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken. Congressman Chris Pappas, who played a leading role in the NDAA for the F-16, also coordinated this new effort.

In their letter, the Congress members speak of a flagrant violation of US law, while also warning of the security risks inherent in the possible co-location of the upgraded F-16 fighters with the S-400s. In this light, the American lawmakers ask Anthony Blinken inform them within the next month about the status of the negotiations with Turkey for the F-16 fighters, but also about the measures taken by the State Department to ensure that there will be no security risks, and that US-Turkey defense cooperation will fully comply with US law.

"No Jets for Turkey"

For his part, the executive director of the Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC), Eddie Zemenidis, who coordinates the "No Jets for Turkey" coalition initiatives, expressed the coalition's satisfaction with this congressional initiative. This coalition includes Jewish, Armenian, Kurdish and Christian organizations.

“Once again, Congress is taking the lead on the issue of US defense relations with Turkey. Although the Biden administration has not yet moved forward with the F-16 upgrade and sale, it is also not sending the right signals to Turkey and letting the Erdogan administration move forward with the impression that the US is the one to back down on the S -400. Fortunately, Congress is consistently coming back and making it clear that the upgrade and sale cannot proceed without certain conditions," said Eddie Zemenidis.

The letter from US Congressmen to Anthony Blinken

Dear Secretary Blinken,

We are writing to express our concern about reports that Turkey is considering further acquisitions of the Russian S-400 missile defense system.  Twenty months since the imposition of sanctions on Turkey pursuant to the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), the Erdogan government has not only failed to come into compliance with CAATSA but has now made it clear that it intends to commit another flagrant violation of the law.

As noted in a letter we sent to you on November 1, 2021, “one of the reasons Congress insisted on Turkey’s ejection from the F-35 program was because of the significant risks associated with collocating S-400s and F-35s. Experts have noted that providing Turkey the Block 70 modernization kits poses similar collocation risks if Ankara continues to possess Russian S-400s.” Additional S-400s would only further increase the collocation risks. We found those risks unacceptable in November, and we find them even more unacceptable today.

Member of NATO

As Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine continues, we cannot have a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member commit to military cooperation with the regime of Vladimir Putin. This undermines U.S. policy in Ukraine, regional peace and stability, and the very NATO alliance unity considerations the State Department has cited to Congress as the reason for considering F-16 upgrades and sales for Turkey.

During his confirmation hearing, U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Jeff Flake declared that Turkey should face additional CAATSA sanctions if it acquires additional Russian weapon systems.  This is no longer a hypothetical question and Turkey’s continued violation of not only U.S. law, but of the expectations of a NATO ally must be addressed immediately.

Under the present circumstances, we must restate our objection to the sale of F-16 modernization kits and/or new F-16s to Turkey. We request a briefing within the next 30 days including an update on the status of negotiations with Turkey on F-16s, how collocation concerns – especially in light of additional S-400s entering the theater of concern – are being resolved, and what steps the Administration is taking to ensure the U.S.-Turkish defense relationship complies with CAATSA and others concerns of Congress. Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter, and we look forward to your response.