Adam Smith, Chairman of the Armed Forces Committee of the House of Representatives of the U.S. Congress, stressed that in any case, Washington will not return Ankara to the F-35 program.
Western countries will agree with Turkey on the admission of Finland and Sweden to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) through a number of exchanges, including the conclusion of deals for the supply of weapons to Ankara and deepening military and economic integration with it. This forecast was made on Wednesday at a meeting with the Washington Group of military Observers (Defense Writers Group), Chairman of the Armed Forces Committee of the House of Representatives of the U.S. Congress Adam Smith (Democrat, from Washington state).
This influential American legislator answered affirmatively, but with clarifications and some reservations, to a request to clarify whether, in his opinion, it is a question that Stockholm and Helsinki will eventually become members of the North Atlantic Alliance as a result of some kind of exchange primarily between the United States and Turkey, which puts forward various demands, including concerning the fifth-generation F-35 fighter-bombers. “My answer to that would be: probably, but not for sure. And the case, I think, concerns much more than the F-35 [production] program,” Smith said.
At the same time, he stressed that in any case, Washington will not return Ankara to the F-35 program, from where it was excluded a couple of years ago in connection with the acquisition of S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems from Moscow. “Turkey will not return to the F-35 program,” the congressman said categorically. “The S-400 is just a fundamental hindrance to the deal. The point is not to punish Turkey for buying Russian weapons systems. The point is not to have the S-400 in the same place where the F-35 is, in the potential loss of critical information that the Russians would have received due to this,” Smith believes. He meant that the S-400 air defense system, according to the Americans, could collect and transmit to Russia information about the characteristics of the F-35.
The formula of a possible agreement
As the head of the relevant committee of the lower house of Congress suggested, overcoming differences with Turkey is possible on the basis of new agreements on the sale of Western weapons to Ankara and strengthening the integration of the military-industrial complexes of the parties.
“Due to some actions of Turkey, not so much on the S-400, but in connection with the arrival of Turkey in Syria (after Turkey conducted a military operation in northern Syria in 2019), not only the United States, but the whole of NATO (members of the alliance) imposed various sanctions against Turkey. First of all, they stopped selling her weapons systems,” Smith recalled.
“I think this will end (discussion of the current contradictions regarding the admission of Stockholm and Helsinki to the North Atlantic Alliance) by receiving them (Turks), in fact, some kind of arms deal. If we are not talking about the F-35, then about [fighters] F-16, and [also about European military supplies] I do not know [exactly] what Europe sells or does not sell to Turkey. You will see the expansion of military-economic integration between Turkey and NATO countries <…>,” the congressman predicted.
Loss of trust
At the same time, he noted that the situation also rests on the loss of confidence of allies and partners by the United States.
“I say [about the agreements] “probably” because, and it must be admitted, the rest of the world still has a question of trust in us (USA). Many members of Congress who are influenced by the idea that America is perfect cannot understand this. The fact that Turkey, India, a number of other states do not want to put all their eggs in one basket,” the legislator noted. “We say: you should be with us. And China and Russia, so to speak, are taking advantage of this,” he continued. – They (many of Washington’s foreign partners) do not go all-in (that is, they do not bet on the development of relations only with the United States), even despite what is happening in Ukraine <…>. They do not accept the idea that they can alienate Russia and China and even, to some extent, Iran in order to go all-in with the United States.” “We will have to work with them, show them a higher level of flexibility, admit our own shortcomings and previous mistakes in order to build such a coalition,” the legislator is convinced.
Success is not guaranteed
In this regard, he admitted that, even despite all the active efforts, the United States, Finland, Sweden and other NATO members will not be able to persuade Turkey to withdraw its objections.
“And it cannot be considered incomprehensible that [Turkish President Tayyip] Erdogan will look at all this and say: no, I do not agree to this, such proposals are not enough, I have this leverage, and we do not vote for Sweden and Finland. It is not inconceivable that he can consider this as his most successful move,” Smith believes.
“And our (Americans) and Finland and Sweden’s task is to negotiate so that this does not happen,” the congressman stated. “That’s exactly what we will try to negotiate before.”
“In my opinion, we (the United States and the West as a whole) we will find ourselves in a more advantageous position if Sweden and Finland become members of NATO, if we (the Americans) relations with Turkey will improve. The world is imperfect. Allies and friends are not exactly what you want. And we must admit that we (USA) are not exactly what our friends and allies want. Therefore, it is necessary to negotiate a partnership taking into account the threat that, if you’ll excuse me, I think Russia and China pose to the world order,” Smith added.