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  • A Russian Su-25 bomber jet

    A Russian Su-25 bomber jet | Photo: Reuters

Published 30 January 2016

Turkey is trying to draw NATO into its antagonism with Russia, which is only carrying out airstrikes in Syria at the request of that country’s government.

Tensions continue to fly high between NATO and Russia, while Turkey appears to purposely be fueling the strained relations by falsely affirming Saturday that a Russian jet violated its airspace, various news organizations reported.

The Turkish government summoned Russia’s ambassador to Ankara, claiming a Russian Su-34 fighter jet had violated its airspace on Friday, adding they warned the aircraft's pilots on various occasions in Russian and English.

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​This incident follows the recent interception of a U.S. intelligence gathering plane by a Russian fighter jet over the Black Sea.

“We are making a clear call to the Russian Federation not to violate Turkish airspace, which is also NATO airspace,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “We are emphasizing once again that the unwanted consequences of such irresponsible behavior will belong fully to the Russian Federation.”​

Turkey downed a Russian fighter jet in November killing the two pilots and causing Moscow to impose sanctions against Ankara. The Turkish government has so far refused to apologize for the incident and blamed the downing on the Russian pilots. Experts and analysts suggested Ankara ordered the aircraft to be downed to protect Islamic State group trucks carrying stolen oil from Syria to be sold to Turkey at rock bottom prices.

President Vladimir Putin called the incident a “stab in the back” by Turkey.

OPINION: Why Turkey Stabbed Russia in the Back

​​The ministry also accused Russia of seeking to escalate existing tensions, when in fact it is Turkey that has been trying to draw NATO into their conflictive relations with Moscow.

Moscow immediately responded to the accusations and denied that their fighter jets violated Turkish airspace by explaining that Ankara couldn’t have determined which country the jet belonged to under the circumstances described.

“There have been no Turkish airspace violations by the aircraft of the Russian airborne tactical formation [acting] in the Syrian Arab Republic. The statements from the Turkish side concerning the alleged air incursion by a Russian Su-34 are proof-less propaganda,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said in a statement on Saturday.

He made it clear that the airspace-controlling radar stations that Turkey has can only determine the altitude, flight line, and speed of an aircraft, but not its type or state affiliation.

Konashenkov said the only way Turkey could have determined whose fighter jet if any violated their airspace would have been through visual contact from another aircraft, something, he added, that never happened.

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​He also emphasized that neither Russian air defense systems in Syria nor Syrian radar stations detected any violations of the Turkey-Syria border, proving that Turkey is purposely transmitting “naked propaganda,” causing tensions to escalate unnecessarily.

In spite of the explanations, and to nobody's surprise, NATO officials gave full credibility to Turkey's “propaganda” and warned Russia against further airspace violations.​

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg asked Russia to "take all necessary measures" to ensure the alliance's airspace was not violated again, and added, that, “Previous incidents have shown how dangerous such behavior is."

According to Reuters, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed interest in meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to discuss the incident.

In October , NATO said it was prepared to send troops to Turkey to defend its ally after Ankara accused Russian jets of violating their airspace.

"NATO is ready and able to defend all allies, including Turkey against any threats," Stoltenberg said then.

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