By Rakesh Raman
“As we have repeatedly made clear, we stand in solidarity with Turkey and support the territorial integrity of our NATO Ally, Turkey,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday.
Stoltenberg was speaking after the shooting down of a Russian military aircraft by Turkey on the border of Syria.
“The North Atlantic Council has just held a meeting, an extraordinary meeting. And we have been updated by the Turkish Ambassador on the recent events. I have also spoken to Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu,” Stoltenberg said. “Turkey informed Allies about the downing of a Russian Air Force plane violating Turkish airspace.”
Putin’s statement holds significance, as the U.S.-led coalition of 65 member countries including Turkey are trying to join hands with Russia to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorists in Syria.
Turkish officials said that the Russian plane Su-24 had violated Turkish airspace and ignored their warning.
Putin, however, argued that Su-24 was flying over the Syrian territory when it was hit by air-to-air missiles fired by Turkish F-16s.
The possibility of the U.S. behind the shooting down of the Russian plane cannot be ruled out, as the U.S. had agreed last month to the Turkish government’s request for support to secure the sovereignty of its airspace.
The first six of 12 U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle jet fighters arrived on Incirlik Air Base in Turkey on Nov. 6 to conduct combat air patrols in Turkish airspace.
As NATO nations are not quite comfortable with the Russian entry into Syria to help the Bashar al-Assad regime, they have supported the Turkish attack on Russian plane.[ Is There a Possibility of Ceasefire in Syria? ]
“I have previously expressed my concerns about the implications of the military actions of the Russian Federation close to NATO’s borders,” Stoltenberg said. “This highlights the importance of having and respecting arrangements to avoid such incidents in the future.”
Stoltenberg said that NATO will continue to follow the developments on the South-Eastern borders of NATO very closely and he is looking forward to further contacts between Ankara and Moscow, urging for calm and de-escalation.
Stoltenberg suggested that diplomacy and de-escalation are important to resolve this situation.
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Photo courtesy: NATO