Donald Trump on Tuesday said the U.S. would not sell sophisticated F-35 fighter jets to Turkey in response to its receiving Russian surface-to-air missiles last week, but he implied he’s willing to help Ankara avoid other penalties many in Congress wish to impose in retaliation and which may still take place automatically.
“We are now telling Turkey … we’re not going to sell you the F-35 fighter jets,” Trump told reporters before a meeting in the Cabinet Room at the White House.
The president appeared to frame the situation facing Turkey – a NATO ally and key partner for U.S. operations in the region – as if Turkey were the victim, and he framed as inevitable its decision to follow through on purchasing Russian S-400 missiles despite months of U.S. warnings.
“It’s a very tough situation that they’re in. And it’s a very tough situation that we’ve been placed in,” Trump said. “With all that being said, we’re working through it. We’ll see what happens, but it’s not really fair.”