The US Department of Defense has ordered Russia to “respect NATO airspace” saying that it believes that a Russian Su-34 jet violated Turkey’s airspace earlier this week.
“We are aware of reports and can confirm that yesterday another Russian combat aircraft violated Turkish — and NATO – airspace,” Pentagon spokesman Mark Wright told Russia’s RIA Novosti on Saturday.
“We call on Russia to respect Turkish airspace and cease activities that risk further heightening instability in the region,” Wright continued.
Wright also stressed the need for Russia and Turkey to “talk to each other and take measures to prevent escalation.”
The Turkish Defense Ministry claimed that a Russian Su-34 bomber violated the country’s air space on Friday, adding that the plane was warned by radar units.
The report prompted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to react, warning Russia of “consequences” if such violations continue.
Shortly after, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg expressed solidarity with Turkey, calling on Russia “to act responsibly and to fully respect NATO airspace.”
Stoltenberg asserted that Russia “must take all necessary measures to ensure that such violations do not happen again.”
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov denied the allegations on Saturday, arguing that Turkish radar systems are not capable of establishing the type and affiliation of an aircraft.
He also dismissed claims that the Russian pilots had received warnings, denouncing them as fictional and made up by “ignorant propagandists who watched too many Hollywood action movies.”
The incident has sparked fears of another military encounter between Russia and Turkey, after the NATO-member’s downing of a Russian Su-24 aircraft over Syria on November 25, 2015.
Back then, Ankara claimed that the jet had entered Turkish airspace, an allegation strongly rejected by Moscow.