Turkey says Russia will ‘face consequences’ if airspace violations continue
AA photoTurkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said Russia will “face the consequences” if it continues to violate Turkey’s airspace, two days after Ankara declared that Russia had again violated its airspace despite multiple warnings.
“We summoned the [Russian] Ambassador [to Ankara, Andrei Karlov] to our ministry and protested the act. We clearly told him, ‘If there are similar violations again you will have to face the consequences,’ because we previously communicated our rules of engagement to Russia,” said Çavuşoğlu on Jan. 31 in Riyadh, at a joint press conference with his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir, according to state-run Anadolu Agency.
Turkey said a Russian warfighter violated Turkish airspace on Jan. 29, despite the pilot being repeatedly warned in Russian and English. The incident comes almost two months after Turkey shot down another Russian aircraft because of an airspace violation.
NATO and the United States confirmed the latest violation, with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg immediately urging Russia not to escalate tension by continuing its airspace violations.
Çavuşoğlu said the breach was also determined by the NATO center in Spain, recalling Stoltenberg’s statement on the issue.
Russia has denied that it violated Turkey’s airspace on Jan. 29, just as it denied the violation on Nov. 24, 2015, which led to Turkey’s downing of the Russian jet and the death of two pilots. That incident sent relations between Ankara and Moscow on a downward spiral and led to Russia announcing a raft of economic sanctions against Turkey.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov denied on Jan. 30 that there was any violation of Turkey’s airspace and called Turkish statements “unsubstantiated propaganda.” His statement was carried by state news agencies Tass and RIA Novosti.
Çavuşoğlu said this denial was a “typical attitude” of Russia lately and all details of the breach had been shared with Russia.
“We not only see Russia as a neighbor. We also see them as an important partner. We want to normalize our relations [with Russia] but one-sided steps are not enough for this to happen,” he added.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu also said Russia “could never cover up a violation of Turkey’s airspace,” as the intrusion was detected on both Turkish and NATO radar.
“As no country in the world is isolated, it is impossible to hide a violation of airspace that actually occurred or make one that never occurred look like it actually did,” Davutoğlu said in a news conference at Saudi Arabia’s Royal Palace on Jan. 31 in Riyadh.
“Russia cannot [cover up] the violations it committed on any grounds,” he added.
The U.S. also called on Russia to respect Turkey’s airspace late on Jan. 30.
“The United States joins NATO in standing in solidarity with Turkey and we call on Russia to respect Turkish airspace and cease activities that risk further heightening instability in the region,” Pentagon spokesman Mark Wright said.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu said he hoped Russia would adopt a “more positive manner” in favor of a political transformation of Syria, adding that it should target the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria rather than the opposition forces.
Russia is a staunch supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and forces loyal to him.