Russia announces economic sanctions against Turkey

Erdogan ‘truly saddened’ by downing of jet in first expression of regret since incident

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree imposing economic sanctions against Turkey on Saturday, four days after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian-Turkish border.

The decree, posted on the website of the Kremlin, said a ban on charter flights from Russia to Turkey would be introduced, that Russian tour operators should stop selling trips to Turkey, and that imports of some Turkish products would be halted.

It also said the operations of Turkish companies in Russia and the employment of Turkish staff by Russian firms would face restrictions and ordered the government to prepare a list of goods, firms and jobs that would be affected.

The degree, which came into force immediately, was entitled “On measures to ensure Russia’s national security and protect Russian citizens from criminal and other illegal activities, and the application of special economic measures against Turkey.”

Some of the measures announced had already been informally introduced.

Turkey mainly sells food, agricultural products and textiles to Moscow. A Kremlin spokesman said earlier on Saturday there could be up to 200,000 Turkish citizens on Russian soil.

Mr Putin signed the decree days before a climate change summit in Paris next week, which Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said earlier on Saturday could be a chance to repair relations with Moscow.

Regret

Mr Erdogan voiced regret over the downing of the jet, saying his country is “truly saddened” by the incident and wishes it had not occurred.

It was the first expression of regret by the leader since Tuesday’s incident, in which Turkish F-16 jets shot down the Russian plane on grounds that it had violated Turkey’s airspace despite repeated warnings to change course.

The incident marked the first time in half a century that a Nato member had shot down a Russian plane, and it drew a harsh response from Moscow.

Mr Erdogan said: “We are truly saddened by this incident. We wish it hadn’t happened as such, but unfortunately such a thing has happened. I hope that something like this doesn’t occur again.”

Addressing supporters in the western city of Balikesir, he said neither country should allow the incident to escalate and take a destructive form that would lead to “saddening consequences”.

Mr Erdogan’s call for a meeting in Paris came after he again vigorously defended Turkey’s action and criticised Russia for its operations in Syria.

“If we allow our sovereign rights to be violated . . . then the territory would no longer be our territory,” he said.

Mr Putin has denounced the Turkish action as a “treacherous stab in the back”, and he insisted the plane was downed over Syrian territory in violation of international law. He has also refused to take telephone calls from Mr Erdogan.

Mr Putin’s foreign affairs adviser Yuri Ushakov said the Kremlin has received Mr Erdogan’s request for a meeting, but he would not say whether one will take place.

Asked why Mr Putin has not picked up the phone to respond to Mr Erdogan’s two calls, he said “we have seen that the Turkish side hasn’t been ready to offer an elementary apology over the plane incident”.

After the incident, Russia deployed long-range S-400 air defence missile systems to a Russian air base in Syria just 30 miles south of the border with Turkey to help protect Russian warplanes, and the Russian military warned it would shoot down any aerial target that would pose a potential threat to its planes.

Before Mr Erdogan’s address on Saturday, Turkey issued a travel warning urging its citizens to delay non-urgent and unnecessary travel to Russia.

Agencies