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Van Hollen, Graham Urge Pompeo to Impose Sanctions on Turkey for Acquiring Russian S-400

December 02, 2019

Today, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) wrote to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging him to impose sanctions on Turkey for its acquisition of the Russian S-400 air defense system. Under current law – and per Secretary Pompeo’s own interpretation – the Administration must act. The letter follows reports that Turkey is now testing the S-400 system.

“Both the Administration and the Congress have repeatedly warned President Erdogan that his decision to move forward with the S-400 requires the imposition of American sanctions. Despite President Erdogan’s recent visit to the White House, he has given no public indications that he is going to change course,” the Senators write. “The time for patience has long expired. It is time you applied the law. Failure to do so is sending a terrible signal to other countries that they can flout U.S. laws without consequence.”

The full text of the letter is available below and here

Dear Secretary Pompeo:

You have previously acknowledged that Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense system triggers U.S. sanctions. Specifically, you said, “the law requires that there be sanctions. And I’m confident that we will comply with the law, and President Trump will comply with the law.”  You were right when you made that statement. Under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, the United States must impose sanctions on Turkey for its acquisition on the Russian-made S-400 system.

In recent days, a Turkish defense official indicated that Turkey has gone beyond acquisition and is now testing a component of the S-400 system in Ankara this week.  In addition, yesterday, the head of Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport asserted that Russia hopes to seal a deal to supply Turkey with even more S-400 missile systems in the first half of next year. The Russian official said, “But I want to stress that military technical cooperation with Turkey is not limited to the supply of the S-400s. We have big plans ahead.” 

Both the Administration and the Congress have repeatedly warned President Erdogan that his decision to move forward with the S-400 requires the imposition of American sanctions. Despite President Erdogan’s recent visit to the White House, he has given no public indications that he is going to change course.

The time for patience has long expired. It is time you applied the law. Failure to do so is sending a terrible signal to other countries that they can flout U.S. laws without consequence. 

Sincerely,

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