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Trump and Erdogan at a 2018 NATO summit. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

The U.S. has formally announced the removal of NATO ally Turkey from the F-35 fighter jet program. The move came after Turkey purchased a Russian S-400 air defense system over vocal objections from Washington.

The big picture: Wednesday's announcement is about military hardware. But it’s also a manifestation of the widening divide between Turkey, the U.S. and NATO. While this breaking point long loomed on the horizon, both U.S. and Turkish officials hoped it could be avoided.

  • Turkey is now banned from buying an aircraft that, until now, it helped build.
  • It’s also receiving a Russian system that was designed to shoot down advanced aircraft, and could gather valuable intelligence on the F-35 and its weaknesses.

Between the lines: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had long been warned that the Russian missile system was incompatible with NATO’s security. But he has used the issue to fan Turkish nationalism and hedge his geopolitical bets, while apparently believing he could avoid any harsh consequences.

  • Senior Turkish officials recently told Bloomberg that Turkey was “too vital to U.S. security interests, and too important to Europe as a potential gateway to millions of refugees, for the West to risk forcing a complete break.”
  • Pentagon officials briefing reporters Wednesday attempted to separate this issue from questions about the broader alliance, which is under severe strain. Erdogan is both warming to Russia and increasingly willing to provoke the U.S.
  • President Trump stressed his “very good relationship” with Erdogan on Tuesday, and said he was reluctant to take this step because it would cost “a lot of jobs” and was “not really fair” to Turkey.

Reality check: While Trump repeated Erdogan's claim that Turkey only bought Russian missiles because the Obama administration didn't give it any alternative, that's not the case. The U.S. repeatedly offered to sell Patriot missiles to Turkey, but negotiations fell apart when the U.S. refused to share sensitive technology.

What to watch: The S-400 decision also exposes Turkey to potential U.S. sanctions. Trump is the "wildcard" in such discussions, Foreign Policy reports, in part because of Erdogan's influence with the U.S. president.

Go deeper

Biden: "Being a cop today is one hell of a lot harder than it's ever been"

President Biden speaks during the 40th Annual National Peace Officers Memorial Service at the U.S Capitolon Oct. 16. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden speaking at the U.S. Capitol on Saturday honored members of law enforcement who died in the line of duty in 2019 and 2021 and saluted those who are currently serving.

Driving the news: "We expect everything of you, and it's beyond the capacity of anyone to meet the total expectations. Being a cop today is one hell of a lot harder than it's ever been," Biden said.

Updated 4 hours ago - World

Islamic State claims responsibility for deadly bombing in southern Afghanistan

The mosque after the explosion in southern Kandahar province on Oct. 15. Photo: Murteza Khaliqi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a massive blast that tore through a crowded Shiite mosque in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar on Friday, killing at least 47 people and injuring dozens more, AP reports.

Why it matters: Friday's attack was the deadliest to strike Afghanistan since the U.S. withdrew its troops from the region and is the second major attack on a Shiite mosque in a week, underscoring the Taliban's growing security threat from other militant groups.

New wave of strikes will test worker power

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Thousands of John Deere workers hit the picket line this week after the union smacked down a new worker contract from the farm and equipment maker.

Why it matters: There’s a wave of worker angst spreading across the country. They wield new power that’s come with a historic worker shortage.