U.S. Senator Jim Risch, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, earlier this week was asked by President Donald Trump to meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, president of Turkey, during his visit at the White House. Risch remains resolute in his position that Turkey cannot retain S-400 air defense systems and at the same time obtain F-35 aircraft. Risch made the following statement following reports that Erdogan has returned to Turkey and contends that he will keep the Russian S-400s:
“When Erdogan walked into the meeting on Wednesday, he thought he was going to make an acceptable case for keeping Russian weapons systems. We brought him to reality in no uncertain terms – from the reality of crippling sanctions on his economy, to our concerns regarding his attack on the Kurds – and he left that meeting with what we hoped was a different and clear understanding that the Senate remains firm and that keeping the Russian S-400 missiles is a nonstarter.
“Now that Erdogan has gone home, according to news reports, he has stated that not only will he keep S-400s, he will make them operational in a matter of months. As chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, I have jurisdiction over foreign military sales. I will work with my colleagues to ensure there is zero chance that F-35s will leave the United States for Turkey while Erdogan possesses the S-400 missile system. As long as those S-400s are in his country under Turkish control, there will be no F-35’s delivered to Turkey. In addition, if he is firm in his position on keeping the S-400s, I intend to move forward with a Turkey sanctions bill. It is his choice, and he knows the consequences.”