Press Release
For Immediate Release: 
May 15, 2019
Contact Info: 
Annaliese Davis 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) joined House Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot L. Engel (D-NY) and Ranking Member Michael McCaul (R-TX); Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA); House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey (D-NY) and Ranking Member Kay Granger (R-TX); and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Ranking Member Doug Collins (R-GA) this week to introduce legislation calling on the Turkish government to cancel its planned acquisition of the Russian S–400 air and missile defense system.

“I’m proud to join a bipartisan group of Members in sending a message of strong support for the U.S.-Turkish alliance within the framework of NATO and to oppose Turkey’s purchase of a Russian weapons system. We remain deeply concerned about the present drift of Turkey’s leaders away from NATO and the West and the common democratic values binding the alliance. Congress will continue to promote a strong security partnership with Turkey and a united NATO alliance,” said Hoyer.

House Resolution 372 emphasizes the historic alliance with Turkey and urges Turkish President Erdogan to avoid a military relationship with Russia that could jeopardize the U.S.-Turkish partnership and Turkey’s role in NATO.
 
“This resolution demonstrates the U.S. Congress’s strong commitment to our country’s historic relationship with Turkey. But we’re troubled by the direction that President Erdogan is taking our important NATO ally. His attacks on democracy, civil society, and the free press are deeply concerning,” said Engel.  “And cozying up to Vladimir Putin is unacceptable. The U.S. Congress will not stand idly by if Erdogan pursues the Russian S-400 air and missile defense system. This legislation sends a clear message to Erdogan— if you continue down this path, you’ll face serious consequences.”

“Turkey is a long-standing ally, but they face a clear choice. If Ankara buys Russian missile systems, the United States should immediately implement sanctions and boot Turkey from the F-35 program. Our bipartisan resolution should be taken as a clear statement from Congress that Turkey must choose: partner with Russia or its NATO allies. I hope Erdogan makes the right decision. The future of our alliance depends on it,” said McCaul.

“The message to Turkey is clear: there is broad, bipartisan consensus that if Turkey goes forward and acquires S-400s, it should not get F-35s,” said McCarthy. “There are simply too many grave consequences to the national security interests of the United States. Turkey should cancel its acquisition and instead cooperate with the United States on the many areas where it is in our mutual interest to work together.”

“The government of Turkey’s consideration of purchasing Russia’s S-400 air defense system is a direct threat to American national security. If they go forward with such a purchase, we cannot allow our F-35 technology to be sold to Turkey,” said Lowey. “I hope Turkey will heed our concerns and maintain U.S.-Turkey relations.”

“This resolution makes it abundantly clear that Turkey’s planned acquisition of the Russian-made S-400 undermines their continued participation in the F-35 program. Turkey’s decision to pursue the Russian missile defense system endangers the integrity of the United States-Turkey alliance, hurts NATO, and would erode the F-35’s technological superiority should transfers be allowed.  For these reasons, Turkey simply cannot continue participation in this program if they continue down this path,” said Granger.

“Turkey cannot persist on this dangerous path toward aligning with Vladimir Putin and suppressing the rights of its own people.  President Erdogan’s pursuit of Russian-made air defense systems would threaten American security and harm our allies.  I appreciate Chairman Engel’s leadership in sending a clear message that this move is unacceptable,” said Nadler.

“The U.S. and Turkey have enjoyed a strong relationship, but we cannot ignore Turkey’s plans to buy Russian air and missile defense systems. Turkey’s planned purchase of this military equipment from Russia poses security risks that undermine its standing in NATO. We must uphold our laws to protect the security of our own nation and that of our NATO allies, including enforcing sanctions on those who conduct significant business transactions with Russian defense or intelligence sectors,” said Collins.

Background
The government of Turkey has said it could take delivery of the Russian S-400 air and missile defense system as early as July. Section 231 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act of 2017 (22 U.S.C. 9525) requires sanctions on any person that conducts a significant transaction with the Russian defense or intelligence sectors. Turkey is also seeking to purchase some 100 F-35 aircraft and participates in production of the F-35.

Full text of the resolution can be found here. Expert opposition to Turkey acquiring the S-400 can be found here.