Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Turkey to Protect Borders after Russian Fighter Jet Incursion

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Turkey to Protect Borders after Russian Fighter Jet Incursion

Article excerpt

ANKARA, Turkey - Turkey's prime minister vowed Monday to take all necessary measures to protect the nation's borders from violation after a Russian fighter jet entered its airspace over the weekend, prompting Turkey to scramble jets and summon the Russian ambassador in protest. NATO said another Russian jet intruded into Turkey's airspace Sunday, and it called urgent consultations on the issue. The alliance strongly protested the Russian violations and noted "the extreme danger of such irresponsible behavior."

Russia admitted to the first incursion Saturday, but said it intruded "by mistake" and assured Ankara it wouldn't happen again, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in a televised interview. However, a senior U.S. official said the Obama administration doesn't believe the Russian incursion was an accident, and officials are in urgent talks with allies about what to do. Neither country spoke about the second incident.

The U.S. official wasn't authorized to publicly discuss sensitive military matters and spoke on condition of anonymity. In Madrid, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Monday that Washington is conferring with Turkish leaders about the infringement.

The incident comes amid Turkish concerns over Russian airstrikes in Syria that have targeted some foreign-backed insurgents. Turkey and Russia also have conflicting positions on the Syrian government, with Russia backing President Bashar Assad and Turkey insisting on his ouster.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said during an interview with Haber Turk television that NATO-member Turkey would enforce its rules of engagement if its airspace is violated. Those rules call for the treatment of any element approaching the Turkish border from Syria as an enemy.

"The Turkish armed forces have their orders," he said. "The necessary will be done even if it's a bird that violates Turkey's border. Our rules of engagement are clear."

A Foreign Ministry statement said Monday that a Russian warplane entered Turkey's airspace near the town of Yayladagi, in Hatay province on Saturday.

Two F-16 jets intercepted the Russian aircraft and forced it to fly back into the Syrian airspace. …

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