Russia ready to talk with Turkey about airspace violation

Nato’s secretary-general has rejected Moscow’s claim that its military incursion into alliance airspace over Turkey was not intentional or important.

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Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Russian Federation had not provided “any real explanation” of the violation, which had “lasted for a long time”.

Speaking in Brussels during a visit, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned Russia on Tuesday that it would lose a lot if it destroyed its friendship with Ankara and said Turkey would not remain patient in the face of violations of its air space by Russian warplanes.

The USA and its allies are already uneasy about Russia’s air strikes on Bashar al-Assad’s enemies in Syria-especially since Moscow has targeted groups supported by the US-led coalition.

Russian warplanes have been flying over Syrian territory since Wednesday, conducting airstrikes on what Moscow says are targets belonging to the Islamic State (IS) group in the country’s northern and central provinces.

Since September 30, Russia has been targeting Islamic State positions in Syria with aerial bombings, according to Russian and Syrian officials.

“This is going to cause us further to strengthen our posture with respect to Russian Federation, and it’s further evidence that they are not thinking things through very well”, he said.

“I will not speculate on the motives, I would just reiterate or restate that this is a serious violation of Turkish airspace, it should not happen again, and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has expressed strong solidarity with Turkey“, Stoltenberg said.

Israel’s military confirmed the two-day meeting on “regional coordination”, which comes after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks last month related to Syria.

“Incidents, accidents, may create unsafe situations,” he said. “The impression is that the incident in Turkish air space was used to plug NATO as an organisation into the information campaign waged by the West to distort the aims of the operations carried out by the Russian air force in Syria“, Alexander Grushko was quoted as telling reporters in Brussels.

BRUSSELS/MOSCOW – The Russian defence ministry angrily dismissed reports that it launched air strikes against the Syrian city of Palmyra as false on Tuesday, the TASS news agency reported. Turkey hoped a buffer zone would help stem the tide against ISIL and Kurdish factions that Ankara fears are exploiting the Syrian conflict to press for an independent Kurdish state in Turkey.

“It was the heaviest Russian attack on Palmyra”, Observatory director Rami Abdulrahman said.

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“Our aviation in Syria does not attack residential areas nor – especially not – the architectural monuments there,” he said.

Jens Stoltenberg