You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Senators ask Biden to delay F-16 sale to Turkey until Finland and Sweden in NATO

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 2/2/2023 Mike Brest
© Provided by Washington Examiner

A bipartisan group of senators has urged President Joe Biden to leverage the upcoming F-16 deliveries to Turkey to push the country to ratify Finland and Sweden's NATO bids.

Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Thom Tillis (R-NC), co-chairs of the Senate NATO Observer Group, led 27 of their colleagues in a letter to Biden on Thursday, saying, “Congress cannot consider future support for Turkiye, including the sale of F-16 fighter jets, until Turkiye completes ratification of the accession protocols.”


Twenty-eight of NATO’s 30 members have ratified Sweden's and Finland's ascension into the alliance, leaving only Turkey and Hungary that haven't, though Budapest is expected to take up the protocols this month. The two countries remain the last holdouts that haven't ratified Sweden's and Finland's bids to join the alliance since mid-July, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accusing both of being soft on terrorism.

“Failure to ratify the protocols or present a timeline for ratification threatens the Alliance’s unity at a key moment in history, as Russia continues its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine,” the senators wrote. "A productive and mutually beneficial bilateral security relationship with Türkiye is in the interest of the United States, and we are awaiting the government’s ratification of the NATO accession protocols for Sweden and Finland."

Earlier this month, the Biden administration informally notified Congress it wants to proceed with a $20 billion deal to provide 40 Lockheed Martin F-16 fighters along with 80 kits to modernize its F-16 fleet to Turkey, triggering a review process after holding up the sale for more than a year. The sale of F-16s to Turkey would be accompanied by a separate deal to send F-35s to Greece in an apparent effort to mollify the Athens government over the arms transfer with its NATO rival.


Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) is already on record opposing the sale, citing Erdogan’s record on human rights. “Until Erdogan ceases his threats, improves his human rights record at home — including by releasing journalists and political opposition — and begins to act like a trusted ally should, I will not approve this sale,” he said in a statement.

Turkish officials opposed their attempts to join the alliance, claiming that both countries have supported terrorists on the grounds that both countries have refused to deport Turkish nationals that Ankara has accused of loyalty to the PKK, an ethnic Kurdish militant group. All three sides agreed to a deal in June to move forward with their NATO applications.


Washington Examiner Videos

Tags: NATO, Turkey, News, Defense, National Security, Finland, Sweden, Joe Biden

Original Author: Mike Brest

Original Location: Senators ask Biden to delay F-16 sale to Turkey until Finland and Sweden in NATO


More from Washington Examiner

Washington Examiner
Washington Examiner
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon