Turkey has again accused Russia of violating its airspace. The Turkish Foreign Ministry said a Russian Su-34 plane violated Turkish airspace at 0946 GMT on January 30, despite repeated warnings from Turkish air radar units in Russian and English languages.
Ankara has summoned the Russian ambassador to “strongly protest and condemn” the latest alleged airspace violation.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Russia would “have to face consequences if it keeps up such violations”.
“Such irresponsible steps do not benefit either the Russian Federation, or Russia-NATO relations, or regional and global peace”, Erdogan told reporters at an Istanbul airport before setting off for a Latin America tour.
Meanwhile, Russia has dismissed Turkey’s claims as propaganda.
“The Turkish declarations concerning the alleged violation of its airspace by a Russian Su-34 are baseless propaganda,” Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told Russian news agencies.
Fresh tension between Turkey and Russia also got NATO worried. NATO head Jens Stoltenberg called on Russia to “act responsibly and to fully respect NATO airspace”.
“Russia must take all necessary measures to ensure that such violations do not happen again,” Stoltenberg said in a statement.
“Previous incidents have shown how dangerous such behaviour is,” he added.
Ties between Ankara and Moscow plummeted after Turkey, a key NATO member, shot down a Russian fighter jet on the Syrian border in November last year. This triggered a war of words when Russia insisted its plane had not crossed into Turkish airspace.
Since then, Turkish President Erdogan has repeatedly attempted to call a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin to improve ties, but all those efforts have gone in vain.
“I’ve asked our foreign ministry undersecretary that I want to meet with Mr Putin but our embassy there has informed us here that there’s been no response from (Russia) since then,” said Erdogan.
Russia began a massive air campaign in Syria in September last year against rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, a long-time Moscow ally whom Turkey bitterly opposes.
(With inputs from agencies)