Democrat congressmen on Tuesday harshly criticized President Joe Biden’s intention to sell F-16 fighter jets to Turkey, noting that Ankara is currently under sanctions by the U.S. for purchasing the Russian-made S-400 missile defense system, Politico reported.
The lawmakers said in a statement that the Biden administration “has not provided answers to how Turkey would qualify to be exempt from these sanctions and how the administration would mitigate the risks of co-locating F-16s and modernization kits with a Russian weapons system, which is why Turkey was removed from the F-35 program.”
The Democratic members of the Hellenic Caucus who signed the statement — Reps. Dina Titus of Nevada, Chris Pappas of New Hampshire, Charlie Crist of Florida, Carolyn Maloney of New York, Frank Pallone of New Jersey and John Sarbanes of Maryland — added that “over the last decade, Turkey has not been a productive member of NATO nor a reliable ally to the U.S.”
Their opposition comes after the president said last week at the NATO Summit that he backs selling the jets to Turkey, according to Politico.
The day before, Ankara dropped its opposition to permitting Finland and Sweden to join NATO. However, the White House denies any link between the two moves.
The Democratic lawmakers wrote that “while Turkey’s relenting on their opposition to Sweden and Finland joining NATO is a welcome development, there are still too many outstanding issues to move forward with the sale of F-16s to (Recep) Erdoğan’s government.”
The congressmen also pointed out that Turkey has violated Greece’s airspace more than 2,300 times this year, slammed Ankara for its “antagonistic actions in the Aegean Sea” and warned against a possible Turkish re-invasion of Syria to strike at Kurdish allies of the U.S.
The critics stressed in their statement that “until the administration can provide suitable answers on how they intended to mitigate the above-listed concerns, we will continue to object to this weapons transfer and do everything we can to ensure that these F-16s are not delivered to the Turkish government.”
The Democrats who signed the statement are not the only ones in the party who slam the proposed sale, Politico noted, with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez, whose approval is needed for the sale to go through, also expressing his opposition.