Nato tells Russia to cease incursions in Turkish airspace
Organisation condemns ‘irrespsonsible behaviour’ following airstrikes in Syria
Footage released by Russia’s defence ministry shows airstrikes carried out by the country’s air force in Syria. Photograph: Reuters
Following an emergency meeting in Brussels, ambassadors to the US-led alliance called on Russia to immediately explain itself, while expressing concern for Russian military attacks on Western-backed rebels in Syria.
“Allies strongly protest these violations of Turkish sovereign airspace, and condemn these incursions into and violations of Nato airspace,” Nato said in a statement.
“Allies also note the extreme danger of such irresponsible behaviour. They call on the Russian Federation to cease and desist, and immediately explain these violations.”
A Russian warplane violated Turkish airspace near the Syrian border, prompting Ankara to scramble two F-16 jets to intercept it and summon Moscow’s ambassador in protest, the foreign ministry said on Monday.
Turkey, which has the second-largest army in Nato, said the Russian jet entered Turkish airspace south of the Hatay region on Saturday.
“ [It] exited Turkish airspace into Syria after it was intercepted by two F-16s from the Turkish Air Force, which were conducting patrols in the region,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticised Russia’s airstrikes in Syria, as a “grave mistake”. Moscow says it aims to weaken Islamic State but Western powers see them as support for President Bashar al-Assad.
“Assad has committed state terrorism, and unfortunately you find Russia and Iran defending [him],” Mr Erdogan was quoted by the Hurriyet newspaper as telling a crowd of supporters in Strasbourg, late on Sunday.
“Those countries that collaborate with the regime will account for it in history,” he said.