- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 15, 2019

A group of bipartisan lawmakers on Wednesday unveiled new legislation that urges Turkey to walk away from a contentious weapons deal with Russia.

The legislation, sponsored by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, and Ranking Member Michael McCaul, calls on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to avoid a military partnership with Russia, and prioritize their alliance with the U.S. and as a NATO member.

Turkey intends to purchase 100 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets as early as the fall, but the transaction has come with stark warnings from both U.S. and European officials who have raised concerns that Russia could obtain significant information about the aircraft if they are used in conjunction with the Russian-made S-400 missile system, which Turkey also intends to purchase.

Top Pentagon officials and lawmakers alike have said the U.S. will pull the plug on sale if Turkey closes a deal to obtain the Russian air defense system.

Rep. Engel, New York Democrat, said the legislation “sends a clear message to Erdogan— if you continue down this path, you’ll face serious consequences.”

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has insisted that Ankara is committed to purchasing Russia’s defense system, despite warnings from Washington. The Defense Department has since canceled all transfers of critical equipment for the F-35 related to the sale.

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