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Turkey-Russia Tensions Rise Again Over New Airspace Incident

  • Luis Ramirez

Tensions rose between Turkey and Russia when Turkey and NATO said a Russian warplane had violated Turkish airspace. Russia dismissed the Turkish allegations as "baseless propaganda."

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said a Russian Su-34 warplane entered Turkish airspace Friday at 11:45 a.m. (0945 UTC) despite what Turkish and NATO officials said were repeated warnings.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Russia it would endure "consequences" if it continued such violations, and he called the Russian actions “irresponsible.” He spoke to reporters at Istanbul's airport as he departed on a trip to Latin America.

The Turkish government said it had summoned Russia’s ambassador in Ankara to protest.

In Moscow, a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said there had “not been a single violation” of Turkish airspace by Russian air force planes.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called the Russian incursion into Turkish airspace “dangerous” behavior and reaffirmed the alliance’s solidarity with Turkey, a NATO member.

“I call on Russia to act responsibly and to fully respect NATO airspace. Russia must take all necessary measures to ensure that such violations do not happen again,” Stoltenberg said in a statement Saturday.

Tensions escalated between Russia and Turkey in November when Turkey shot down a Russian warplane that Turkey said had violated its airspace near its border with Syria. In that incident, Russia also denied its aircraft had entered Turkish airspace.

Russia and Turkey are fundamentally at odds on the conflict in Syria, where both countries have ongoing military operations.

Since September, Russian warplanes have been carrying out airstrikes on Syrian rebels in support of the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Turkey wants Assad to leave power.

Since last year, Turkish warplanes have been striking Islamic State militants inside Syria.

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