- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The Trump administration has made it “very clear” that Turkey will face consequences if it goes through with the purchase of a Russian S-400 missile defense system that is expected to be delivered to Ankara within days, a top State Department official said Wednesday.

Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs R. Clarke Cooper told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing that Turkey knows it risks being sanctioned if the deal goes through.

“I don’t think there’s been any lack of clarity to the Turkish government, to them and their responsibilities as a NATO partner,” Mr. Cooper said.

President Trump appeared to hedge on U.S. threats to punish Ankara for the Russian deal when he met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the recent Group of 20 summit in Japan, calling the history of the deal “complicated.” Mr. Erdogan after the meeting said he believed that Mr. Trump would not apply sanctions.

“We have heard from him personally that this would not happen,” the Turkish leader told reporters last month.

He reiterated the conclusions of the intelligence community and defense officials in the U.S. and at NATO that the Russian-made system could be used to spy on U.S. and allied technology and weapons.

Mr. Erdogan has insisted the deal for the S-400 missile defense system will go through, despite threats from the U.S. the country would be removed from the production chain for the U.S. F-35 joint fighter jet program.

Last month, the Pentagon suspended its training program for Turkish pilots learning to fly the advanced F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and ordered the roughly 40 trainees to leave the U.S. by the end of July.

Mr. Cooper said the administration is “on the same page” as the committee in prohibiting the sale of F-35 aircraft to Turkey if they obtain the Russian system.

“They may not be listening,” he said, “but we’ve all said it.”

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