Turkey Has Right To Defend Territory: Obama On Downing Russian Jet

On downing of Russian plane, Obama says Turkey has ‘right to defend its territory’; Russia warns serious consequences

3 min read
File photo of the F-15E Strike Eagles. (Photo: Reuters)

About the shoot-down of a Russian plane by Turkey, US President Barack Obama said Turkey had a “right to defend its territory and its airspace.”

The president said the shoot-down underscored an “ongoing problem” with Russia’s military operations in Syria, where the Russians have been targeting groups near the Turkish border.

U.S. President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande have urged Russia and Turkey to avoid escalation over the incident along the Turkish-Syrian border.

The incident appears to be one of the most serious publicly acknowledged clashes between a NATO member country and Russia for half a century. Russian and Turkish shares fell on fears of an escalation between the former Cold War enemies.

A Turkish military statement said the plane entered Turkish airspace over the town of Yaylidag, in Hatay province. It said the plane was warned 10 times within the space of five minutes.

In a letter to the U.N. Security Council, Turkey said it had shot down the jet while in Turkish air space. Along with a second plane, the aircraft had flown more than a mile into Turkey for 17 seconds, despite being warned 10 times in five minutes while approaching to change direction, the letter said.

Nobody should doubt that we made our best efforts to avoid this latest incident. But everyone should respect the right of Turkey to defend its borders
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, in a speech in Ankara.

Meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin has called Turkey’s downing of a Russian fighter jet “a stab in the back” carried out by the accomplices of terrorists, saying the incident would have serious consequences for Moscow’s relations with Ankara.

Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu responded saying that the country would act against violation of its borders.

Russia denies that the plane crossed the Syrian border into Turkish skies. Turkey, on the other hand claims it the plane violated Turkish airspace and ignored repeated warnings.

AFP reports say one pilot of the downed jet is dead and the second has been reported missing.

Reports also say that an official has said that Turkey has summoned the Russian envoy to discuss the issue.

The Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov has cancelled his Turkey visit which was slated for on November 25, reports Reuters. Lavrov said the threat of terrorism in Turkey is no less than that in Egypt.

The Turkish foreign ministry has summoned the US, Russian, French, Chinese, British envoys to brief on downing of Russian jet, reports Reuters quoting a Turkish official.

We are looking into the circumstances of the crash of the Russian jet... The Ministry of Defence would like to stress that the plane was over Syrian territory throughout the flight.
Russian Defence Ministry statement

Russia said the SU-24 was downed by artillery fire, but Turkey claimed that its F-16s fired on the Russian plane after it ignored several warnings. The ministry said the pilots parachuted but added that Moscow had no further contact with them.

Video footage of the incident showed a warplane on fire before crashing on a hill and two crew members apparently parachuting to safely.

Russia has termed the incident ‘a very serious incident’ reports AFP.

NATO authorities who have been in close contact with Turkey after the plane was downed, have said they back Turkey.

NATO says Backs Turkey over Russian plane

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg offered support for Ankara on Tuesday and rejected any suggestion that the incident happened outside of Turkey’s borders.

“We stand in solidarity with Turkey and support the territorial integrity of our NATO ally,” Stoltenberg said.

Russia had started targeting areas of Syria dominated by ethnic Turkmens in the days before Turkey shot down a Russian warplane on Tuesday after what appears to have been a brief Russian incursion into Turkish airspace, U.S. officials told Reuters.

The U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Russian strikes in the area were aimed at opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and not militants from Islamic State. (Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by Susan Heavey)

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