NATO-member Turkey said another Russian warplane violated its airspace on Friday despite several warnings — two months after Turkey’s military shot down a Russian jet for crossing over its territory.
Turkey’s foreign ministry said it summoned the Russian ambassador to lodge its protest over the incident.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned Moscow on Saturday that it would be forced to endure the consequences if its jets continue to violate Turkish airspace. He did not specify what those consequences might be.
“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,” Erdoğan told reporters before departing on a Latin American tour.
However, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, denied that there was any violation of Turkey’s airspace and called the Turkish statements “unsubstantiated propaganda.” His statement was carried by state news agencies Tass and RIA Novosti.
He stressed that the airspace controlling radar stations that Turkey can only determine the altitude, flight line, and speed of an aerial vehicle, but not its type or state affiliation. To determine which country owns the jet requires visual contact from another aircraft, Konashenkov emphasized, adding that no visual contact had been reported.
He denounced the claim that Russian pilots had been warned “in English and Russian” via radar as a story made up by“ignorant propagandists who watched too many Hollywood action movies.”
Konashenkov also stressed that neither Russia’s air defense systems in Syria, nor Syria’s airspace controlling radar stations, had recorded any violations of the air border between Syria and Turkey.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg urged Russia to “take all necessary measures” to ensure NATO airspace was not violated again.
In November, Turkey had shot down a Russian bomber, a Su-24, after it briefly violated the country’s airspace. The plane went down in Syria with Moscow saying it only spent 17 seconds over Turkish territory.
The incident provoked a deep political crisis between Ankara and Moscow. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has so far refused to apologize for the incident and blamed the downing of the Russian bomber on the pilots. One of the two pilots was killed in the incident.
Following the downing, Moscow introduced multiple sanctions against Ankara, banning agricultural trade with Turkey, reintroducing a visa regime and suspending most bilateral economic projects, including the Turkish Stream gas pipeline construction project.
Moscow has been carrying out an anti-terrorist operation in neighboring Syria since September 2015. Russia’s Su-27 and Su-30 fighter jets, Su-34 and Su-24 tactical bombers and Su-25 attack aircraft are taking part in airstrikes on Islamic State and other Syrian terrorist groups.