U.S. threatens Turkey with denial of F-16 fighter jets

Turkey’s objection to the start of Finland’s and Sweden’s accession talks to NATO generated some dismay on Capitol Hill, The Washington Post reported.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez was sharply critical, saying the move added to broader concerns about Turkey’s reliability as a U.S. ally following its purchase of Russian antiaircraft systems and its refusal to join some broader Western sanctions after the Ukraine special operation.

Menendez noted that the maneuver was coming as Turkey is seeking to purchase dozens of new F-16 fighter jets, a sale that would require Biden administration and congressional approval. “I hope the administration is noticing it as they’re considering F-16s,” he said. “You should be telling Erdogan you’ve got to act in a different way if you want consideration for anything.”

Sen. Thom Tillis, a co-chair of the Senate’s NATO observer group, said, “I think it ultimately gets resolved.” He noted that while the United States has “any number of levers” to compel Turkey’s cooperation, “I don’t want to escalate it to that point.”