House Presses Trump to Sanction Turkey Over Russian Missiles

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U.S. President Donald Trump would be forced to impose sanctions on Turkey over its purchase of a Russian missile defense system under bipartisan legislation approved in the House of Representatives.

The measure was included as part of the annual defense-policy bill for the 2021 fiscal year passed in the House on Tuesday. It would make Turkey’s purchase and acceptance of the Russian S-400 missile defense system an “explicitly sanctionable offense,” the provision’s author, Illinois Republican Adam Kinzinger, said in a statement.

The Trump administration has resisted growing pressure from both parties in Congress to exact retributions on Turkey, a NATO member that hosts key military installations for the alliance. Turkey opted for the Russian equipment after accusing Western allies of failing to provide needed defense against missile threats.

The House provision, sponsored by Kinzinger and Abigail Spanberger, a Virginia Democrat, would enforce penalties through the 2017 Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). That law mandates penalties on any country that engages in a “significant transaction” with the Russian defense sector.

“Turkey ignored warnings from NATO members about this arms deal with Russia,” Kinzinger said in a statement. “We need to make it very clear that their actions will not be tolerated and will be met with serious consequences.”

The legislation would allow the president to remove CAATSA sanctions if Turkey got rid of the S-400 system.

The House defense authorization bill, H.R. 6395, passed by a vote of 295-125 on July 21. Some aspects of the bill have prompted a veto threat from the White House.

The Senate version of the bill, S. 4049, doesn’t currently include the sanctions provisions affecting Turkey. Idaho Republican Jim Risch, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, has introduced a similar amendment, but it’s unclear whether the Senate would take it up.

The House and Senate would have to work out differences in the defense bills before a final version is sent to the president to sign into law.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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