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Turkey calls in Russian ambassador over airspace violation

Foreign ministry 'strongly protests' reported violation of Turkish airspace by Russian Su-34, calling it 'irresponsible behaviour'
Turkey said an Su-34 violated its airspace on Friday (AFP)
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Turkey on Saturday accused Russia of a new violation of its airspace, warning Moscow against "irresponsible behaviour".

"A Su-34 plane belonging to the Russian Federation air force violated Turkish airspace at 11.46am local time yesterday [Friday]," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Ankara summoned the Russian ambassador to the foreign ministry on Friday to "strongly protest and condemn" the violation, the ministry added.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Russia would "face consequences if it keeps on such violations against Turkey's sovereignty rights".

"Such irresponsible steps do not benefit either the Russian Federation, or Russia-Nato relations, or regional and global peace."

Nato head Jens Stoltenberg said Russian forces operating in Syria must "fully respect" alliance airspace.

"Russia must take all necessary measures to ensure that such violations do not happen again," he said.

The Turkish allegation comes just over two months after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane on the Syrian border on 24 November, saying it had violated Turkish airspace.

Moscow and Ankara are currently experiencing their worst relations since the end of the Cold War.

In addition to the 24 November incident, which sparked a bitter diplomatic row, the two countries back opposing sides in Syria's almost five-year civil war.

Russia is the key supporter of the Damascus government while Turkey argues that President Bashar al-Assad must be removed to solve the crisis.