Russia making 'big mistake' invading Turkish airspace

  • 08/10/2015
Turkish Prme Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (Reuters)
Turkish Prme Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (Reuters)

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu says only two Russian air strikes in Syria had targeted Islamic State jihadists and warned that Ankara won't make any concessions on its border security.

Stressing that Moscow was making a "big mistake" by escalating the Syrian conflict, Davutoglu added that it was hard to predict what might happen if Russian warplanes violated Turkish airspace again.

In televised comments, the premier said only two out of 57 Russian bombardments had targeted IS fighters while the others had targeted moderate rebels backed by Turkey and the United States, claiming that the figures were based on military intelligence Ankara had received.

"If there's going to be a fight against Daesh, let's do it together," he said, using another acronym for the militant group.

Davutoglu warned against any operation targeting Syrian civilians and the opposition which he said could lead to a new refugee influx.

Russian aircraft violated Turkish airspace on Saturday (local time) and on Sunday, prompting Ankara to summon the Russian envoy three times to protest the breach.

Also, Turkish F-16 jets carrying out reconnaissance flights on the Syrian border were harassed and put on radar lock by unidentified MIG-29 planes in recent days.

"We will not make any concessions in the context of our border and air space security," Davutoglu said.

Emphasising that Turkey's airspace was NATO airspace, Davutoglu urged major trade partner Russia to respect his country's border security.

"We do not want any tensions with Russia but as I say, it is our most natural right to expect Russia to be careful about Turkey's airspace, borders and Turkey's interests in Syria," he said.

In other remarks aired by Turkish television later on Wednesday, Davutoglu said Russia was making a "big mistake", while warning against new violations of Turkey's airspace.

He dismissed fears of a war "for now", as dialogue with Russia remains open, but he said Turkey must be ready for anything.

"We would never want to be... part of a war but it is our duty to take the necessary steps in a situation that concerns us," he told Star TV.

"We need to be ready for every scenario for our country's future and our people's peace."

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also warned Russia on Tuesday against losing Turkey's friendship, saying that Turkey cannot "remain patient" in the face of violations.

NATO has extended support for Turkey, with its chief Jens Stoltenberg accusing Moscow of deliberately breaching Turkish airspace.