US foreign policy

US pushing ahead, kicking Turkey out of F-35 program over Russian S-400s: Pentagon

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As signs continue to take a turn for the worse, the United States officially kicked Turkey out of its F-35 fighter jet training program on Wednesday, according to Turkish state-run media.

Washington sanctioned Turkey’s military procurement agency in December over Ankara’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 surface-to-air missile system despite previous warnings that such a system could be used to collect data on the US F-35 fighter jet.

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The Trump administration announced the expulsion of Turkey from the F-35 production program along with the sanctions and bans on military export licenses.

Asked for confirmation that the Pentagon notified Turkey of the official expulsion, a Defense Department official said Washington’s position had not changed.

“The S-400 is incompatible with the F-35, and Turkey has been suspended from the program. We continue to move forward with the process of formally removing Turkey from the F-35 partnership, as announced in July 2019,” Defense Department spokesperson Jessica Maxwell told Al Arabiya English.

Turkey pushed ahead with the purchase of the Russian system, but called for dialogue to resolve the issue with the US.

Despite former President Donald Trump’s close ties with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Trump administration did not hold these talks and announced sanctions as a result of the move.

President Joe Biden has yet to hold talks with his Turkish counterpart despite having phone calls with almost all leaders of major capitals.

And as Biden makes human rights a central part of his domestic and foreign policy, Turkey continues to become polarized in Washington.

Turkey also warned Biden earlier this week against becoming the first US president to recognize the Armenian genocide. Doing so, Turkey’s foreign minister said, would further harm bilateral ties.

Meanwhile, Biden’s support for the Kurdish SDF in Syria continues to draw the ire of Ankara.

Read more: Explainer: What caused the strain in US-Turkey relations?

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