Thursday 29 September 2016

Turkey warns Moscow not to 'play with fire' as leading Russian politicians say downed jet deserves military response

Maria Kiselyova

Published 27/11/2015 | 13:52

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has warned Russia not to "play with fire" in a move that will likely inflame the dispute over a downed Russian bomber.

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Relations between the former Cold War antagonists are at their worst in recent memory after Turkey shot down the jet near the Syrian border on Monday.

Russia has threatened economic retaliation against Ankara, which President Erdogan has dismissed as "emotional" and "unfitting".

"We very sincerely recommend to Russia not to play with fire," Mr Erdogan told supporters during a speech in Bayburt, in northeast Turkey.

"We really attach a lot of importance to our relations with Russia... We don't want these relations to suffer harm in any way."

Mr Erdogan said he may speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a climate summit in Paris next week, a discussion that would be welcomed by the United States and EU, both of which fear the spat has distracted from the battle against Islamic State militants in Syria.

In Paris, Mr Putin is due to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the Syrian crisis and Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan insisting the Russian jet violated its airspace despite repeated warnings Credit: Kayhan Ozer (AP)
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan insisting the Russian jet violated its airspace despite repeated warnings Credit: Kayhan Ozer (AP)

He will also meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel for talks about Syria and Ukraine.

However he has so far refused to contact his Turkish counterpart because Ankara has yet to apologise for the downing of the jet.

Yuri Ushakov, Putin's aide, said on Friday: "We see Turkey's unwillingness to simply apologise for the incident with the plane."

Turkey shot down the Russian Su-24 bomber, insisting it had violated its airspace
Turkey shot down the Russian Su-24 bomber, insisting it had violated its airspace

Turkey maintains it downed the jet as a result of what it calls "the automatic enforcement of the rules of engagement".

Russia's lower house speaker, Sergei Naryshkin, said on Friday that Moscow had the right to make a military response, calling the incident an "intentional murder of our soldiers".

Reuters

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