Turkish PM: Military to react if Russia violates Turkish border again
Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
AFP photoTurkey has warned that it will react if Russia again violates Turkey’s border with Syria after Russian aircraft breached Turkish airspace over the weekend, with Moscow saying the incident was not intentional but due to a “navigational error.”
“Let me put it bluntly: Turkey’s rules of engagement are valid for Syria’s, Russia’s or another country’s warplanes. The Turkish Armed Forces have been issued with open instructions. Even if it’s a flying bird, whoever violates Turkish airspace will be subject to the necessary actions,” Davutoğlu told Habertürk TV in an interview on Oct. 5, stressing that Russia must not escalate tension in Syria.
A Russian fighter aircraft violated Turkish airspace on Oct. 3 in the southern district of Yayladağı in Hatay province and was intercepted by Turkish jets, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.
“The Russian aircraft exited Turkish airspace into Syria after it was intercepted by two F-16s from the Turkish Air Force, which were conducting patrols in the region,” a written statement by the ministry said Oct. 5.
Davutoğlu said Turkey had warned Russia to prevent a repetition of such violations, adding that Russian authorities had assured Turkey that they would not be repeated and that the Oct. 3 violation was unintentional.
“I just spoke with our chief of General Staff. We have given the necessary instructions to our foreign minister. Diplomatic traffic has begun. Our position is very clear, we’ll warn any country that violates our borders in a friendly way. Russia is our friend and neighbor. There is no tension between Turkey and Russia in this sense. The issue of Syria is not a Turkish-Russian crisis,” he said.
The ministry summoned the ambassador of Russia in Ankara, Andrey Karlov, and strongly protested the violation.
Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioğlu also called his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, to lodge a protest warning him not to repeat similar incidents.
Sinirlioğlu also conducted telephone calls with his U.S., French, Italian and British counterparts to evaluate the situation and met NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels. Russian violations of Turkish airspace are “unacceptable,” the NATO chief said Oct. 5.
Russia says violation was navigation error
Turkish military sources said a Russian SU-30 breached Turkish airspace for hundreds of meters in Yayladağı for two minutes at 12:10 p.m., but returned to Syrian airspace after one warning.
The Turkish air forces initially worked to determine whether the aircraft was a Russian SU-29 or SU-24, which are also used by the Syrian Air Force, until they determined that the plane was an SU-30 model used only by Russia, sources said.
Turkey adopted strict rules of engagements in 2012 after one of its F4 jet fighters was downed by Syria, announcing that it would consider any naval, air or land forces vehicle approaching Turkish territory from Syria as a threat.
Russia has informed Turkey that the violation of Turkish airspace near the Syrian border on Oct. 3 was due to a “navigation error,” according to Russian sources.
The Russian authorities informed the Turkish military attaché in Moscow about the error, Russian Embassy officials in Ankara told the Hürriyet Daily News.
Second breach of Turkish airspace by unidentified MIG-29
In a second incident, two Turkish F-16 fighter jets were harassed by an unidentified MIG-29 for five minutes during a patrol flight on the border with Syria on Oct. 4, one day after the Russian violation, according to the Turkish General Staff.
“Ten F-16 fighter jets were patrolling the Turkey-Syria border. During this mission, two of our F-16’s were harassed by an unidentified MIG-29, with a lock-on for a total of five minutes and 40 seconds,” said the Turkish military in a statement on Oct. 5.
A spokesperson for Russian President Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters on Oct. 5 that Russia’s operations in Syria would not cause a worsening in relations with Turkey and that the cooperation of two countries had a strong base.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said Oct. 5 that its warplanes had carried out strikes on nine Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) targets, including command centers and communications posts in three provinces in the past 24 hours.