ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey warned of consequences on Saturday after saying a Russian SU-34 jet had violated its airspace despite warnings, once more stoking tensions between two countries involved in Syria’s war, but Russia denied that there had been any incursion.
In a similar incident in November, Turkey shot down a Russian warplane flying a sortie over Syria that it said had violated its airspace, triggering a diplomatic rupture in which Russia imposed economic sanctions.
Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov denied that any Russian plane had entered Turkish airspace, and called the Turkish allegation “pure propaganda”.
He said Turkish radar installations were not capable of identifying a particular aircraft or its type or nationality, and that no verbal warning had been issued in either English or Russian.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said in its statement that the Russian ambassador had been summoned late on Friday, and that the violation was a clear sign that Russia wanted issues between the two countries to escalate.
“We are making a clear call to the Russian Federation not to violate Turkish airspace, which is also NATO airspace,” the statement said.
“We are emphasising once again that the unwanted consequences of such irresponsible behaviour will belong fully to the Russian Federation.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the violation had taken place, and urged Russia to “take all necessary measures” to ensure NATO airspace was not violated again. “Previous incidents have shown how dangerous such behaviour is,” his statement said.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he wanted to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin after the incident.
“I told our Foreign Ministry to convey my desire to meet Mr Putin personally. There has been no answer on this yet,” Erdogan told reporters at the airport before departing for a visit to Latin America.
The downing of the Russian warplane in November left relations between the two countries in tatters. Russia responded with economic sanctions that have hit Turkish exports and tourism revenues.
Additional reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin and Maria Tsvetkova in Moscow; Editing by Kevin Liffey