Turkey said it intercepted a Russian jet that violated its airspace over the weekend.
The country called in the Russian ambassador and lodged a strong condemnation of the violation, Turkey’s foreign ministry said in a statement yesterday.
“The Russian Federation will be responsible for any undesired incident that may occur,” the ministry warned.
The incident occurred Saturday in the Yayladagi region of Turkey’s southern Hatay province.
“The Russian aircraft 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.”
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the violation was “a mistake,” according to the semiofficial Anadolu news agency.
“Our foreign minister called the Russian foreign minister and said clearly that this should not be repeated,” Anadolu quoted Davutoglu as saying in an interview with Haberturk TV. “The information from Russia this morning was that this happened by mistake and that they respect Turkish borders and that it will not be repeated.
“Whoever violates our airspace, our rules of engagement are clear,” he said. “We will warn whoever violates our borders and our airspace in a friendly manner. This country can be whichever and Russia is our neighbor, our friend. In this way, there is no tension between Turkey and Russia. The Syria issue is not a Turkish-Russian crisis,” he said.
Turkey and Russia are at odds regarding the bloody civil war raging in Syria.
Ankara’s position is that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has to go for the conflict to end. Moscow backs the Syrian leader and has begun airstrikes that it says are against ISIS militants.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the airspace violation was “unacceptable.”