By: Jake Smith, Daily Caller News Foundation
The Biden administration approved the transfer of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey after the country approved Sweden’s NATO bid on Monday.
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan confirmed on Tuesday that Washington green-lit the sale of F-16s to Turkey after the country said it would allow Sweden to join NATO. Diplomats and analysts say that the timing of the deal is questionable, as Turkey has sought to buy American fighter planes since 2021 and was only approved for the purchase after they agreed to support Sweden’s NATO bid on Monday, according to Reuters.
Turkey finally approved Sweden’s NATO membership after the two countries issued a joint statement pledging to fight against the terrorist group PKK and reinvigorate Turkey’s accession into the EU, Reuters reported. The Biden administration approved the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey a day later.
President Biden said he has been “anxiously” waiting for Sweden to join the NATO alliance in a meeting with the country’s prime minister last week. He told reporters on Tuesday that he was “not at all” surprised that Turkey finally gave up blocking Sweden’s bid, according to Fox News.
When asked why he believed Turkey changed its mind, Biden smiled and said: “What do you think?”
Public officials from both the Biden administration and Turkey have denied that Turkey’s approval of Sweden’s NATO accession had anything to do with the F-16 sale.
“President Biden has been clear and unequivocal for months that he has supported the transfer of F-16s to Turkey and that this is in our national interest,” Sullivan said at the annual NATO conference on Tuesday. “He has placed no caveats or conditions on that in his public and private comments over the past few months.”
Various diplomats and analysts, however, remain unconvinced that the F-16 transfer is unrelated to Sweden’s NATO bid, with some calling the deal “The Swedish blackmail.”
“There seems to have been a big push by the Biden administration to allow Turkey to modernize its air force and acquire new F-16s,” said defense specialist Camille Grand to Reuters. “This push together with the Swedish efforts on the PKK front might have played an important role in convincing Erdogan to move forward on Sweden.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will attend the NATO summit on Wednesday and is expected to meet with Biden, according to Fox News.
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