Russia Turkey Airspace: Airspace Violation
Published: October 5, 2015
Russia Turkey Airspace: Airspace Violation, Turkey says its military intercepted a Russian fighter plane that had violated the country’s airspace while apparently flying a sortie over Syria – an incident that risked further inflaming tensions days after Russia’s military intervention began.
Turkey’s ministry of foreign affairs said two F-16 fighter jets intercepted the Russian plane while it was flying south of Hatay, a province that borders Syria, on Saturday.
Ankara summoned Russia’s ambassador to the country and “strongly protested” about the violation. Turkey urged that there be no repeat of the incident and it was made clear that Russia would be blamed for any further escalation.
Turkey also lodged a formal protest with Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, and said it would consult with its Nato allies about the implications of the incident.
Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan, is in Brussels for talks with the European Union to discuss the continuing crisis of Syrian civilians fleeing the war to Europe.
The prime minister, Ahmed DavutoÄŸlu, said the Russian intervention risked escalating the conflict in Syria and added that Moscow had said the incursion into Turkish airspace was a mistake.
“What we have received from Russia this morning is that this was a mistake and that they respect Turkey’s borders and this will not happen again,” DavutoÄŸlu was quoted as saying by local media. “Necessary steps would be taken against whoever violates Turkey’s borders.”
The Nato secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, met DavutoÄŸlu on Monday. He said Russian violation of Turkish airspace was unacceptable and that he would convene an emergency meeting later in the day.
“Russia’s actions are not contributing to the security and stability of the region,” Stoltenberg said. “I call on Russia to fully respect Nato airspace and to avoid escalating tensions.”
Richard Moore, the UK’s ambassador to Turkey, said: “Russia’s incursion into Turkish airspace is reckless and worrying. UK, and its other Nato allies, stand shoulder to shoulder with Turkey.”
In Moscow, Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, said Russia was looking into reports of the violation of airspace. “The reports will be checked so I cannot say anything certain at the moment,” he said.
Reuters quoted the US defence secretary, Ash Carter, as saying Washington was conferring with Turkey about the incursion. Speaking during a trip to Spain, Carter compared Moscow’s effort to bolster Bashar al-Assad’s regime to tethering itself to a sinking ship.
“By taking military action in Syria against moderate groups targets, Russia has escalated the civil war,” Carter said in a speech in Madrid.
Turkey’s military also said that on Sunday an MIG-29 jet harassed two Turkish F-16s for 5min 40sec by locking its radar on to them. The military said the incident occurred while 10 F-16s were patrolling the Turkish-Syrian border, adding that it did it not know to which country the MIG-29 belonged.
Russia began airstrikes in Syria last week in defence of Assad. The Russian defence ministry said its air force had made 25 flights in Syria during the past 24 hours and hit nine Islamic State targets there.
The Syrian state news agency Sana said airstrikes hit targets in the provinces of Hama, Latakia, Homs and Idlib. Most of the strikes targeted towns where Isis has no known presence, such as Talbiseh in Homs and Jisr al Shughour in Idlib. The towns are controlled by various rebel groups, some including al-Nusra Front, al-Qaida’s wing in Syria. Nevertheless, Syrian state TV maintained that the raids had targeted Isis facilities and command centres.
Turkey opposes the Russian intervention.ErdoÄŸan’s government has insisted on Assad’s departure as a prelude to resolving the crisis, and has backed a range of rebel groups fighting to overthrow him.
Last week, Turkey issued a joint statement with its allies involved in the US-backed campaign against Isis that asked Moscow to cease attacks on the Syrian opposition and to focus on fighting Isis.
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