Russia Demands Turkey, NATO Release Video Proving Latest Airspace Violation

AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko
AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

Russia is denying the government of Turkey’s claims that a Russian fighter jet once again violated its sovereignty, crossing into Turkish territory from Syria, where the Russian government is engaged in airstrikes to support dictator Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

The Russian government has flatly denied claims that a Russian Su-34 jet had entered Turkish airspace unauthorized, calling Ankara’s claim “pure propaganda.” As Turkey claims NATO radars identified the jet entering Turkey, Russia is now demanding NATO release footage of the plane, which NATO has deemed “classified.”

“It’s absolutely clear to us that the information has been ‘classified’ not from us, but from the public and media, particularly those from Western countries and the US, which have been manipulated by their Turkish partners,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said, according to Russian propaganda outlet Russia Today (RT). The United States confirmed the airspace violation, along with NATO officials.

The incident allegedly occurred on January 29, and the jet reportedly ignored two attempts to communicate with it and warn it away from Turkish airspace.

“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,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said of the violation after Ankara summoned the Russian ambassador in Turkey. “If Russia continues the violations of Turkey’s sovereign rights, it will be forced to endure the consequences.”

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu echoed the sentiment that Russia would suffer some unspecified “consequences” over the incursion. “We summoned the [Russian] Ambassador [to Ankara, Andrei Karlov] to our ministry and protested the act. We clearly told him, ‘If there are similar violations again you will have to face the consequences,’ because we previously communicated our rules of engagement to Russia,” he clarified on Sunday, dismissing the denials on Moscow’s part as “typical.”

Turkey has yet to take any retaliatory measures, however, and state-run Anadolu Agency reports Tuesday that Russian aircraft will be allowed to execute a planned series of observation flights over Turkish airspace this week. The statement goes on to say that “Turkey performs on average four surveillance flights over Russian territory every year, while Russian inspectors conduct two flights in Turkey,” Anadolu explains.

Russia has taken an economic measure against Turkey, banning cargo trucks from entering Turkey this week in response to the accusation. Economic relations between the two countries have suffered since the last time Turkey accused a Russian jet of violating its airspace.

On that occasion, in November, Turkish officials claimed they reached out to the pilot of a Russian Sukhoi-24 warplane ten times, receiving no response and allegedly having no indication the plane was Russian. Turkish military officials shot the plane down, killing the pilot. “The plane violated Turkish air space 10 times in five minutes despite warnings,” the Turkish army said in a statement.

At the time, Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed a retaliatory action against Turkey, calling the plane incident “a stab in the back committed by accomplices of terrorists.”