US Sen. Lindsay Graham: I told Turkey they can avoid sanctions if they don’t activate Russian radar

Graham says President Trump asked him to make the call


Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on the request of President Trump, called Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu with a simple pitch on Wednesday: Just don’t activate the Russian-made S-400 missile defense system.

I’m in the camp of, if they don’t activate the S-400, the sanctions don’t have to be applied. My hope is to persuade Turkey not to active the system because it’s so disruptive to the relationship,” Graham told Defense One. “My pitch to Turkey was, let’s stand down on the S-400, let’s start free trade agreement negotiations.”

Turkey took possession of components of the system earlier this month, prompting the White House to boot Ankara out of the F-35 program and triggering the possibility of U.S. sanctions.

If Turkey turns on the advanced air defense system, Graham said, the U.S. relationship with NATO ally Turkey “takes a very dark turn.”

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