Friday, 27 November 2015

Televised war of words over Russian jet

Russia and Turkey have been locked in a nasty war of words, days after a Russian Su-24 jet was shot down, on the Turkish-Syrian border. Both pilots survived the attack, but one was reportedly shot by Syrian rebels, as the pair attempted an emergency parachute landing. The other was safely rescued by Russian and Syrian forces.

A matter of hours after the attack, Russian President Vladimir Putin dubbed the attack "a stab in the back". Turkish President Erdogan has reportedly taken to Turkish television, to tell Russia not to "play with fire". President Erdogan also expressed his intention to speak to President Putin in person, when world leaders come together at a Paris-based climate change event, in a matter of days.

Turkey argued that the Su-24 jet had violated Turkish airspace, earlier this week, before it had been shot down. The area in question is a narrow strip of Turkish territory, that is surrounded by Syrian territory on three sides. The Turkish military claims it sent 10 separate warnings to the jet, in the space of 5 minutes. The first warning was reportedly received 17 seconds after the Turkish military had noticed the jet's alleged incursion onto Turkish airspace.

The surviving pilot insists no such warnings were issued, and is adamant that the jet remained in Syrian airspace, the whole time. As the repercussions of this event unfold, it is understood that Turkey and Russia have suspended strikes on ISIL in the area.

Mr Erdogan used his televised address to stress that he did not want Turkey to ruin its relationship with Russia. However, Russia has already made moves against Turkey, such as cancelling a visa-free travel agreement, which will be enforced from 1st January onwards. A rapprochement is far from certain, in this frosty climate.

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