Turkey at odds with Moscow after grounding Russia-Syria flight
Turkey, already on the brink of a conflict with Syria, may now be facing tensions with Moscow after grounding a flight from Russia on suspicion that it was carrying weapons for the Syrian regime
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The grounding of the aircraft also strains the relationship between Turkey and Russia. Moscow has been one of the few countries to stand by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over the course of the 19-month conflict, and has used its veto power on the United Nations Security Council to block multiple resolutions that would have allowed stronger action against the regime, including laying the groundwork for international intervention.Skip to next paragraph
Latin America Editor
Whitney Eulich is the Monitor's Latin America editor, overseeing regional coverage for CSMonitor.com and the weekly magazine. She also curates the Latin America Monitor Blog.
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The Financial Times reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin postponed a scheduled trip to Turkey next week, which could have been an opportunity for Turkey to persuade Russia to temper its support for the Assad regime.
“If it had been necessary to ship any military hardware or weapons to Syria, this would have been done through the established procedure rather than in an illegal way, not to mention using a civilian aircraft,” the official told Interfax. Because Russia hasn’t suspended its military-technological cooperation with Syria, there is no reason to avoid using official channels, the source noted.
Russian authorities demanded an explanation for the grounding of the flight, which was carrying 17 Russian passengers.
“Russia insists that the Turkish authorities must explain their conduct regarding Russian citizens and prevent similar incidents in the future,” Russian consulate spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement. “Turkish authorities denied without explanations and in violation of the bilateral consular convention a meeting of the diplomats with the Russian citizens."
Turkey had already stated it would not allow military or cargo planes carrying weapons into Syria to use its airspace, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said, according to Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News. Turkey said it would continue investigating Syrian civilian planes using its airspace in the future if needed.
"We exercised our rights, and we will exercise them again tomorrow if required," Transport Minister Binali Yildirim said.