Sunday

22nd Sep 2019

Nato sides with Turkey on Russia jet, urges calm

  • Stoltenberg (c): 'I welcome the contacts between Moscow and Ankara' (Photo: nato.int)

Nato has endorsed Turkey’s version of events on the shooting down of a Russian jet, as Russia rules out a “military” reaction.

Nato head Jens Stoltenberg told press after an emergency ambassadors’ meeting in Brussels on Tuesday (24 November) that “the assessments we got from several [Nato] allies are consistent with the information we received from Turkey.”

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

“What we are calling for now is calm … this is a serious situation which calls for us all to be prudent and contribute to de-escalating the situation. That’s why I welcome the contacts between Moscow and Ankara [on the incident],” he added.

According to Turkey, two Russian SU-24 planes approaching its airspace on Tuesday morning were warned 10 times to change direction.

They crossed the line at 9.24am to a depth of 2.2km for 17 seconds. Two Turkish F16s then fired at one of the SU-24s, which crashed on the Syrian side.

Syrian Turkmen fighters, a Turkey-backed rebel group in Syria, told the Reuters news agency they shot dead the two pilots as they descended by parachute.

Russian president Vladimir Putin said the SU-24 was flying 1km from the Turkish line inside Syria.

He described the incident as a “stab in the back” committed by “accomplices of terrorists.”

He accused Turkey of giving financial and military assistance to Islamic State (IS). He also said the incident “will have serious consequences for Russian-Turkish relations.”

His spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, ruled out a military response in later comments. “The president, in fact, was not talking about any military implications and we should proceed from that,” he said.

He added that “no decision … has been taken” on whether Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet with Putin in Russia in December, as planned.

But Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov cancelled his trip to Turkey, due on Wednesday, which was to prepare for the Russia summit.

The Russian foreign ministry also advised the 3.5 million Russian tourists who visit Turkey each year to stop going due to a “terrorist” threat.

For his part, Erdogan, on TV, said Turkey has a right to defend its territory.

He criticised Russia for previosuly bombing Syrian Turkmen groups, whom he called his “kinsmen,” and said he plans to create “humanitarian safe zones” for refugees inside Syria.

Bilateral issue

The main Nato powers - France, Germany, the UK, and the US - portrayed the incident as a Russia-Turkey issue.

US president Barack Obama, speaking at an event with France’s Francois Hollande in Washington, said: “It’s important to ensure the Russians and the Turks are talking to each other … and to discourage any kind of escalation.”

Hollande said: “We must find a solution to the Syrian crisis because this incident shows precisely what can happen if we don’t.”

British PM David Cameron phoned Erdogan to urge him to have a "direct conversation" with Putin.

Germany foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said: “I hope … both Ankara and Moscow are aware of the responsibility when it comes to reactions and couter-reactions.”

Obama also criticised Putin for bombing Western-backed rebels in Syria, however

He urged him to make a “strategic shift” by abandoning support for Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and by targeting IS only, adding: “If Russia was conducting its strikes agaist Daesh [another name for IS], I think the scope for such mistakes [crossing into Turkish airspace] would be smaller.”

Chess game

The last time a Nato ally shot down a Soviet plane was in Korea in 1952. The Soviet Union last shot down a US spy plane in 1960.

Russia recently stepped up airspace violations of the Baltic states and of Turkey. But Turkey is also guilty of buzzing Greek airspace from time to time.

One EU diplomat called Erdogan’s decision to strike the SU-24 a “chess move.”

He told EUobserver it's designed to curb Russia’s presence in Syria, which threatened to squeeze out Turkey’s interests.

“It’s a clever chess move because the last thing Russia needs right now is a new confrontation with the West. The Paris attack is Putin’s opportunity to rebuild ties. France, for one, is talking of brotherly love with Russia and of a new partnership to fight IS."

He predicted Turkey and Russia will wait for the dust to settle, then revive plans to build a new gas pipeline as a gesture of reconciliation.

Mark Galeotti, a US scholar of Russia affairs, said in his blog: “Russia cannot fight hot diplomatic wars on too many fronts, and Europe clearly wants Moscow to be part of the solution in Syria and, maybe, Ukraine.”

He predicted Putin will strike back against pro-Turkish groups in Syria or give support to anti-Turkey Kurdish forces in an asymmetric retaliation.

EU hopes €3bn will see Turkey halt migrants

EU leaders and Turkey’s PM will, on Sunday, finalise a €3 billion deal to stop migrants coming, in talks held in the shadow of the Turkey-Russia confrontation.

News in Brief

  1. Ireland: right Brexit deal is 'not yet close'
  2. UK secrecy on Brexit holds back wider EU talks
  3. Feminist mass protest in Spain after 19 murders this summer
  4. Global climate strike starts ahead of UN summit
  5. UK Brexit minister to meet Barnier on Friday
  6. Russia-Ukraine gas deal talks show 'progress'
  7. Nobel economist: Ireland 'not good EU citizen' on taxes
  8. Germany takes carbon border tax on board

Column

These are the crunch issues for the 2019-2024 EU commission

These developments will largely determine who will be running the world in the coming decades and perhaps generations. If the Europeans can't find an answer over the five years, they will be toast. And we haven't even mentioned climate change.

Opinion

Time to pay attention to Belarus

Belarus may be hosting the European Games, but Vladimir Putin is not playing games when it comes to Belarus' independence. The West needs to get serious as well.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  6. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  8. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  9. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  10. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  11. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat

Latest News

  1. Europe goes to New York This WEEK
  2. Nine EU 'commissioners' asked to clarify declarations
  3. Dismiss Italy's Salvini at your peril
  4. Malta PM accused of 'blackmail' over slain reporter
  5. Diplomats back Romania's Kovesi for EU top prosecutor
  6. Brexit raises questions for EU defence integration
  7. Low-carbon cities can unlock €21tn by 2050, report finds
  8. France, Italy want 'automatic' distribution of migrants

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us