U.S. House unanimously urges Turkey to cancel S-400 deal

The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution on Monday calling on Turkey to cancel its planned acquisition of Russia’s S-400 missile defense system, or face U.S. sanctions.  

The measure, led by Democrat Eliot Engel, chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Michael McCaul (R-TX), the committee’s top Republican, urged Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to avoid a relationship with Russia that could jeopardise the U.S.-Turkish partnership and Turkey’s role in NATO.

“This is a black and white issue; there is no middle ground,” Engel said on the house floor. “Either Mr. Erdoğan cancels the Russian deal, or he doesn’t. And there is no future for Turkey having both Russian weapons and American F-35s. There’s no third option. There’s no path for mitigation that will allow Turkey to have its cake and eat it too. We cannot risk exposing our national security technology to Russia.”

The resolution also warned of U.S. sanctions should Turkey complete its purchase of the S-400s, which are expected to be delivered next month. McCaul expressed concern about the U.S.-Turkey alliance, yet hoped to renew the friendship.

“This resolution expresses full support for the United States Government’s offer to sell Turkey the Patriot system, if Turkey does not acquire the S-400. We want to give Turkey the ability to accommodate its security needs without endangering its place in NATO,” said McCaul.

Also on Monday, Foreign Policy reported that the U.S. military has grounded the six Turkish pilots training on the F-35 fighter jets, preparing for Turkey’s full eviction from the programme if it fails to cancel the deal with Moscow by July 31.

On Tuesday, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying the house resolution was inconsistent with the two countries’ deep-rooted friendship.

“It is impossible to accept the unfair and unfounded allegations raised in the resolution about Turkey's foreign policy and judicial system,” the ministry said. “The most effective way of eliminating disagreements between friendly and allied countries is dialogue and respect for the sovereign decisions of the countries. Instead, approving such resolutions which are not binding and which do not serve to enhance mutual trust; using the language of threat and sanctions and putting some artificial deadlines are not acceptable.”