Turkish FM slams Russia’s missile ‘provocation’ in Bosphorus
ISTANBUL / ANTALYA
This photo shared by photographer Emre Dağdeviren on his Twitter account shows Russian soldiers on board the 'Caesar Kunikov.'A Russian warship passed through Istanbul’s Bosphorus en route to the Mediterranean on the morning of Dec. 6. One soldier was seen in footage of the boat passing holding a ground-to-air missile, drawing an angry reaction from Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.
The soldier held the missile on his shoulder in the shooting position during the passing of Russia’s “Caesar Kunikov” warship.
“This is provocation, this is a harassing passage,” Çavuşoğlu told reporters on Dec. 6 in his hometown Antalya.
“The Russian warplanes’ violation of our airspace and the passing of the Russian warships through the Bosphorus are two very different things,” he added, referring to the Montreux Convention regarding the regime of the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits.
“The passages should be made in accordance with the international agreements, whether it is a Russian ship or of another nationality, the rules have long been determined,” Çavuşoğlu said.
He added that the “necessary answer will be given in situations deemed to be a threat.”
“The showing off of a missile by a soldier on a Russian warship, or other things such as anti-aircraft weapons, is pure provocation. I hope that this is an isolated case. It is not the right approach,” he said.
Relations between Russia and Turkey have deteriorated after Ankara shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian border for violating its airspace.
While Russia denied any violation, it implemented a series of measures against Turkey, including a partial ban on exports and cancellation of bilateral agreements.
Tensions have increased with the naval build up in the eastern Mediterranean, with Russian warships constantly sailing through the Turkish straits to travel to and from the area.
Ten countries in addition to Russia and Turkey currently have warships in the area, including the U.S. air craft carrier “USS Roosevelt” and France’s air craft carrier “Charles de Gaulle.”
Meanwhile, three NATO warships also dropped anchor off Istanbul’s Sarayburnu coast on Dec. 6, Doğan News Agency has reported.
The NATO Maritime Group warships included Portugal’s F-334 NRP Francisco de Almeida, Spain’s F-105 ESPS Blaz de Lezo, and Canada’s FFG-338 HMCS Winnipeg.