NATO ‘Stands In Solidarity’ With Turkey

20th November 2002
NATO Summit Meeting in Prague, Czech Republic
North Atlantic Council Meeting at the level of Heads of State and Government.
North Atlantic Council Meeting with Invitees at the level of Heads of State and Government.
- General View

NATO declared it “stands in solidarity” with member-state Turkey after its military shot down a Russian fighter jet that allegedly violated Turkish airspace.

NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg made the declaration during a special meeting called by Turkey on Tuesday, only hours after the incident happened.

NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg

NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg

“I have previously expressed my concerns about the implications of the military actions of the Russian Federation close to NATO borders,” Stoltenberg said. “This highlights the importance of having and respecting arrangements [….] in the future.”

Stoltenberg went on to “call for calm and de-escalation.”

“Diplomacy and de-escalation are important to solve this situation,” he said, adding in response to a question that information from other NATO allies was consistent with information provided by Turkey regarding the incident.

Turkey said the Russian plane violated Turkish airspace and repeatedly ignored its warnings to leave. Moscow, however, said the plane was inside Syria when it was shot down.

U.S. president Barack Obama also defended Turkey’s shooting down the Russian plane, saying the country “has a right to defend its territory and its airspace.”

Obama: Turkey Has ‘Right To Defend’


U.S. President Barack Obama backed Turkey’s shooting down a Russian warplane Tuesday, saying the country “has a right to defend its territory and its airspace.”

The incident, which may have left one Russian fighter pilot dead, points to an “ongoing problem” with Russian airstrikes in Syria.

If Russia were to focus on Isis rebels in Syria, mistakes would be “less likely to occur,” Obama added during a press conference with French president Francois Hollande.

The president urged both Turkey and Russia “to discourage any kind of escalation” over the incident and move toward a political solution in Syria.

Turkey Shoots Down Russian Jet Fighter


Turkey announced Tuesday its warplanes shot down a Russian military aircraft on the border with Syria.

Russian president Vladimir Putin confirmed the downing in a press conference, blasting the incident as a “stab in the back” committed by “accomplices of terrorists.”

While Putin said the Su-24 was hit by air-to-air missiles fired by Turkish F-16s as it flew over Syrian territory, Turkish military officials said the Russians were engaged after being warned – 10 times in 5 minutes – that it was violating Turkish airspace.

The Turkish military released a map showing what it said was the flight of the jet as it apparently crossed into Turkey over Hatay Province, which abuts northern Syria.

Turkish military released this map to justify their attack.

Turkish military released this map to justify their attack.

But Putin insisted his fighters had been targeting Isis-related terrorists and had not violated Turkish airspace.

“They were carrying out an operation against [Islamic State militants] in the mountains of northern Latakia, where militants who originate from Russian territory are concentrated. So they were carrying the key task of preventative attacks against those who could return to Russia at any time,” Putin said.

Turkish video of the downing shows the Russian plane in a free-fall descent, leaving a trail of smoke and fire as it crashed into the mountains of northern Latakia. Russian and Syrian planes have been targeting Turkmen fighters who have been seeking more support from Ankara in their fight against the Syrian regime.

Turkey has repeatedly warned Russia and Syria that it was ready to help Turkmen rebels.

The Russian pilots were filmed safely parachuting to earth.

The Russian pilots were filmed safely parachuting to earth.

Two parachutes, presumably the pilots, were also seen safely gliding to earth, but Syrian rebels later released video showing the body of what appeared to be one of the Russian pilots.

Tuesday’s downing is not the first time that cross-border skirmishes have erupted into violence. On June 22, 2012, Syrian forces shot down a Turkish fighter jet as it patrolled the border between the two nations. In March, 2014, Turkey shot down a Syrian jet that it accused of violating its airspace in a hostile manner. Turkey has also fired shells into Syria when mortars strayed into Turkish territory, and shot down an unarmed Russian drone last October.

NATO has vowed to protect member-state Turkey against Syria. Germany deployed Patriot missile defense systems to Turkey in 2012.

The mounting risk of military confrontation between Turkey and Russia along the Syrian border is also threatening strong trade ties, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warning Moscow to “think carefully” about taking steps counter to Ankara’s national interests.

The incident is expected to be a focus of talks on Wednesday when Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov travels to Turkey for previously scheduled meetings.

After Russia’s first incursions into the Turkish airspace in early October, Mr. Erdogan threatened Moscow with diverting Turkey’s natural gas purchases to other providers—a move that would curb Russian energy sales to its second biggest market.

Russia has responded by announcing that it cut in half the capacity of a gas pipeline dubbed Turk Stream, which Moscow wants to build to circumvent Ukraine to deliver gas to Europe.

Tense diplomatic ties between Moscow and Ankara could also threaten the construction of Turkey’s first nuclear power plant.

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