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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2737

Rising tensions: NATO-Turkish radars detected Russian jet's airspace violation, Turkey warns Russia!

By Dr. Abdul Ruff

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on 31 January that both Turkish and NATO radars detected a Russian jet violating Turkish airspace, refuting Russian claims that the violation was "pure propaganda."

Latest reports suggest Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov denied that any Russian plane had entered Turkish airspace, and called the Turkish allegation "pure propaganda".

Russian SU-34 jet reportedly flew into Turkish airspace despite radar warnings, prompting Ankara to summon ambassador and once more stoking tensions between two countries involved in Syria's war, but Russia had denied that there had been any incursion. "Russia can not cover up its violation of our airspace. It's not possible to hide such an incident if it did happen, or to make up a violation if it didn't happen," Davutoglu told a press conference in Riyadh.

In a similar incident in November, Turkey shot down a Russian warplane flying a sortie over Syria that it said had violated its airspace, triggering a diplomatic rupture in which Russia imposed economic sanctions.

Davutoglu has made it clear that Turkey has absolutely no intention of escalating tension with Russia, but we remain sensitive about protecting our airspace.

Turkey has warned Moscow of "consequences" after saying that a Russian warplane ignored several radar warnings not to violate Turkish airspace, in the latest spat between the two countries. Two months after Turkey's army shot down a Russian jet for allegedly crossing over its territory, Ankara said on Saturday that it had summoned the Russian ambassador after a Russian SU-34 jet crossed into Turkish airspace.

The Russian defence ministry denied that there was any violation and dismissed the Turkish accusations as "baseless propaganda". "There has not been a single violation of Turkish airspace by Russia air force planes in Syria," ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told Russian news agencies. He added that Turkish radar installations were not capable of identifying a particular aircraft or its type or nationality, and that no verbal warning had been issued.

Relations between the two countries are at their lowest point in decades, prompted by the November 24 downing of the Russian jet by Turkish forces.

Moscow imposed a series of economic sanctions against Ankara after the incident, sparking the biggest crisis between the two countries since the Cold War.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Friday's incident was a sign that Russia wanted issues between the two countries to deteriorate.

"We regard this infringement which came despite all our warnings in Russian and in English as an effort by Russia to escalate the crisis in the region," Erdogan said on Saturday.

"If Russia continues the violations of Turkey's sovereign rights, it will be forced to endure the consequences," he added, saying he wanted to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin after the incident.

"I told our foreign ministry to convey my desire to meet Mr Putin personally. There has been no answer on this yet."

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called on Russia to "act responsibly" and "take all necessary measures" to ensure the bloc's airspace was not violated again.

"A Russian combat aircraft violated Turkish airspace yesterday, despite repeated warnings by the Turkish authorities. Previous incidents have shown how dangerous such behaviour is," Stoltenberg said in a statement on Saturday.

Meanwhile, there is no respite in war in Syria. US Secretary of State John Kerry appealed on Sunday to both sides to continue Syrian peace talks in Geneva despite an attack by Islamic State bombers that killed more than 60 people near the country's holiest Shi'ite shrine. Kerry said the conflict could easily engulf the Middle East if no negotiated settlement was achieved. He also called for immediate steps to increase food aid and other humanitarian assistance to Syrians. "In the end there is no military solution to the conflict," Kerry said in a televised statement.

- Asian Tribune -

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