Russia has taken a series of steps to bolster security in Syria after Turkish forces shot down a Su-24 on Tuesday. Turkey claimed that the warplane violated its airspace for 17 seconds even after being warned 21 times. Now Moscow has deployed a guided missile destroyer off the coast of Latakia to destroy any targets that “pose danger to its interests.” The guided warship Moskva would bolster Russia’s presence in the region.
Turkey ‘stabbed in the back’ of Russia
Russian General Staff official Sergey Rudskoy said all communications with the Turkish military would be “discontinued.” On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Ankara of “stabbing in the back” of Russia. Putin sent a stern warning that there would be “serious consequences.” Rudskoy also announced that all the bomber aircraft would now be accompanied by fighter jets.
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It’s the first time since the Cold War that a NATO member has shot down a Russian warplane. Vladimir Putin said in a media briefing, “In any case, our pilots did not threaten Turkey in any way.” The Kremlin has advised Russian citizens not to go on holiday to Turkey. Meanwhile, the Western military alliance also held an emergency meeting at the request of Ankara.
NATO, UN call for calm
Part of the Black Sea Fleet, Moskva is an 11,500-ton warship equipped with anti-ship missiles, anti-submarine mortars and torpedoes. It is also loaded with 64 Fort missiles, the naval variant of S-300 air defense systems. Fort missiles are capable of engaging targets up to a distance of 150km, enough to cover southern Turkey from Latakia. Moskva was previously stationed in Crimea’s Sevastopol, but left that base earlier this year.
While tensions between Russia and Turkey have escalated, NATO and the United Nations have called for calm on the Syria-Turkey border. NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg expressed “solidarity with Turkey,” and called for de-escalation of tension. The UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon said a “credible and thorough review” will clarify events and help prevent future recurrences.