Turkey threatened to shoot down Russia’s warplanes if it would repeat violating its airspace. Russia intruded Turkey’s airspace twice over the weekend. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davugtulu emphasized that his government would take necessary steps against those who violates the country’s borders.
The Russian Defense Ministry acknowledged that its warplanes accidentally intruded Turkey’s airspace on Saturday due to poor weather. However, the Ministry stated that it has no knowledge of the incident on Sunday.
Major General Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Defense Ministry of Russia said the incident on Saturday (October 3), involved a Sukhoi-30 fighter jet, which crossed the Syrian-Turkish border for “a few seconds” due to “unfavorable weather conditions.”
The Turkish Foreign Minister called the Russian Ambassador to Turkey after the Russian Air Force repeated its airspace violation the following day.
Turkish Prime Minister Davugtulu said they received a statement from Russia that the intrusion was a mistake and promised that the incident will not happen again. Russia also stated that it respects Turkey’s borders.
Prime Minister Davugtulu emphasized, “Turkey’s rules of engagement apply to all planes, be they Syrian [or] Russian or from elsewhere. Turkey’s armed forces have very clear instructions. Necessary steps will be taken against whoever violates Turkey’s borders, even if it’s a bird.”
On September 16, Turkey shot down a Syrian Mi-17 helicopter on its airspace, but the chopper landed on the Syrian side of the border.
“For Russia, which long opposed foreign intervention in Syria and blocked UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions, to be actively involved in Syria is both contradiction and a move that escalated the crisis,” added Prime Minister Davugtulu.
U.S. State Sec. Kerry intensifies diplomatic discussion
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned that Russia’s airspace violation could have resulted to a “shootdown.”
Reuters quoted Sec. Kerry saying, “We are greatly concerned about it because it is precisely the kind of thing we warned against.” He added that if Turkey responded, it could have resulted in a shootdown.”
The U.S. Secretary of States said he intensified diplomatic discussions after the incident to make sure that there would be no accidental conflict between Russian and coalition aircraft over Syria.
Mark Toner, a spokesman for the State Department spokesman added that Washington views “this [Russian] incursion as reckless, and it’s dangerous, provocative.”
NATO’s comment on Russia’s intrusion into Turkey’s airspace
NATO repeated the warnings of the United States and Turkey against Russia. NATO officials emphasized that the Russian aircraft in question entered the airspace of Turkey despite “clear, timely, and repeated warnings” from Turkish authorities. According to them, such irresponsible move was extremely dangerous.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said an attack on Turkey would be an attack on all NATO members. According to him, he had a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu regarding the recent military actions of Russian in and around Syria including the “unacceptable violations” of Turkey’s airspace by Russian fighter jets.
General Stoltenberg said, “I made clear that NATO remains strongly committed to Turkey’s security. I will convene a meeting of the North Atlantic Council later today to discuss the situation.”
He added, “Russia’s actions are not contributing to the security and stability of the region.” Furthermore, General Stoltenberg asked Russia to “fully respect NATO airspace and to prevent escalating tensions with the Alliance.”
“I urge Russia to take necessary steps to align its efforts with those of the international community in the fight against ISIL.”