- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are demanding a role in expected U.S. sanctions against Turkey in response to Ankara’s acquisition of the Russian-made S-400 missile defense system.

New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, the panel’s ranking Democrat, was joined by nine Democratic colleagues in the letter, sent to Mr. Trump ahead of a planned meeting with Republican senators Tuesday afternoon at the White House. The Democrats argued they could amplify Mr. Trump’s expression of unhappiness with Turkey over the Russian deal.

“If you were to engage with Democratic senators on this issue, you would learn that our members agree with many past and present members of your administration, as well as many Republican senators,” the lawmakers wrote.

Earlier this month, Turkey announced it formally received shipments of the Russian system that U.S. and fellow NATO allies fear could give Russia a window into alliance strategy and the capability of such weapons as the new American F-35 fighter jet.

“We believe that a strong response to Turkish President Erdogan’s acceptance of the Russian S400 air defense system must be delivered because, without decisive action by the United States, our position in NATO and the strength of our sanctions regime on Russia will suffer,” they wrote.

U.S. law gives Mr. Trump a choice of punishments and sanctions to levy on Turkey, but Mr. Trump — who has said the Obama administration is in part to blame for Turkey’s missile buy — has not specified which sanctions he is considering. The Pentagon has already moved to bar Turkish contractors from the production change for the F-35.

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