Russian Fighters Intercepted Over Turkey

Russian fighters operating in Syria willfully violated Turkish-NATO airspace in two separate incidents over the weekend, NATO officials announced after a high level meeting to discuss the issue. Su-30 fighter and Su-24 strike aircraft “entered Turkish airspace despite Turkish authorities’ clear, timely, and repeated warnings,” according to an Oct. 5 Alliance statement. Turkish F-16s scrambled to intercept the Russian aircraft, which then “exited Turkish airspace into Syria,” according to a Turkish Defense Ministry statement. Turkish officials summoned Russia’s ambassador to “strongly protest” the incursion, adding that jets violating Turkish airspace again “will be responsible for any undesired incident that may occur.” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he “called on Russia to fully respect NATO airspace and to avoid escalating tensions with the Alliance,” ahead of a meeting with Turkey’s foreign minister. Allied officials condemned the violations, characterizing Russian flight activities as “extremely dangerous” and “irresponsible.” NATO called on Russia to “cease and desist” violating allied airspace and explain its activities and intentions.