Erdogan Warns Russia Against Violating Turkish Airspace

  • Russian jet said to have crossed Turkish border on Friday
  • Moscow says Turkey's allegation is `unfounded propaganda'

Russia will “face consequences” if it doesn’t respect Turkey’s sovereignty, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, after his government reported the second Russian violation of the country’s airspace in two months.

Russia denied Turkey’s allegation that a Sukhoi SU-34 warplane entered Turkish airspace at 11:46 a.m. local time on Friday, disregarding warnings from radar units.

Russia’s ambassador to Ankara was summoned to the Turkish Foreign Ministry within hours, and Erdogan said he’s asked to speak with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.

Russia’s “irresponsible steps” are detrimental to NATO-Russian relations and to peace in the region, the Turkish president said late Saturday, according to state-run Anadolu Agency. The foreign ministry called on Russia “to act responsibly and not to violate Turkish airspace, which is NATO airspace.”

The incident further strained relations that unraveled in November after Turkey shot down a Russian jet it said crossed into its airspace from neighboring Syria, in the first direct clash between foreign powers involved in the war there. While the rhetoric has cooled, economic relations remain frayed, with many Turkish exports now subject to Russian sanctions.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova confirmed that Moscow’s ambassador to Turkey had been summoned. Turkey’s allegations are “unfounded propaganda,” Russia’s Defense Ministry said, adding that Russian anti-aircraft systems and Syrian radars didn’t register the alleged breach.

In the wake of the incident Turkey’s armed forces moved their pilots onto “orange alert,” according to Hurriyet newspaper, allowing them to shoot without awaiting orders if they register a breach. More Turkish F-16 jets were sent to the country’s southeast, the newspaper said, without saying where it obtained the information.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called on Russia “to act responsibly and to fully respect NATO airspace.”

“I welcome the direct contacts between Ankara and Moscow, and I call for calm and de-escalation,” Stoltenberg said in an e-mailed statement.

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