The Pentagon on Friday condemned Turkey’s reported test of a Russian-made missile system, a weapons system that US officials believe could pose a threat to the US and NATO.
“The US Department of Defense is aware of reports of a possible test of the S-400 air defense system by Turkey. If accurate, the Department strongly condemns the test,” Chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement.
A US defense official told CNN that the US military assessed that Turkey did, in fact, test the Russian-made S-400 missile system.
“We object to Turkey’s purchase of the system, and are deeply concerned with reports that Turkey is bringing it into operation. It should not be activated. Doing so risks serious consequences for our security relationship. Turkey has already been suspended from the F-35 program and the S-400 continues to be a barrier to progress elsewhere in the bilateral relationship,” Hoffman said.
Members of Congress have repeatedly called on the Trump administration to sanction Turkey for its purchase of the Russian-made system which US officials believe is capable of potentially collecting intelligence on US and NATO systems and passing that information back to Moscow.
“Today’s test by Turkey of the Russian-made S-400 air defense system is a stark reminder that Ankara is not deterred by simple meek pleas coming from the Trump administration. Erdogan only responds to actions, not words,” Sen. Robert Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement on Friday, referring to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
“In July 2019, Turkey took delivery of the S-400 in clear violation of US sanctions mandated by the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions law. The Trump administration has ignored the law, weakening our hand against Putin. It has also has emboldened Erdogan, leading to today’s test,” Menendez added.
While the Trump administration has yet to sanction Turkey over its purchase of the weapons system, it did eject Ankara from the F-35 jet program and administration officials have increasingly criticized Turkey over a range of actions it has taken recently.
On Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticized Turkey for its active support for Azerbaijan in that country’s conflict with Armenia over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
“It is dangerous. We now have the Turks, who have stepped in and provided resources to Azerbaijan, increasing the risk, increasing the firepower that’s taking place in this historic fight over this place called Nagorno-Karabakh,” Pompeo told the “Erick Erickson Show.”
And on Tuesday, the State Department condemned a recent announcement by Turkey that it would once again send a survey ship to explore for hydrocarbon resources in disputed waters that are claimed by Greece.
“The United States deplores Turkey’s October 11 announcement of renewed Turkish survey activity in areas over which Greece asserts jurisdiction in the Eastern Mediterranean. Turkey’s announcement unilaterally raises tensions in the region and deliberately complicates the resumption of crucial exploratory talks between our NATO Allies Greece and Turkey,” State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.