NATO has condemned Russian incursions into Turkish airspace as Russia intensifies its bombing campaign in Syria.
Jens Stolberg, NATO Secretary General, said the violations were “unacceptable”. The meeting between the NATO Secretary General and the Foreign Minister of Turkey Feridun Sinirlioğlu was designed to examine the developing situation in Syria, including Russian involvement.
“Russia’s actions are not contributing to the security and stability of the region”, said Stolberg. Russia has recently announced and executed a bombing campaign in Syria. The Russian government claims it is hitting ISIS targets, but NATO allies claim the opposite – that the government is supporting the Assad regime.
The airspace incursions gave a stinging response from Ankara, who said it would retaliate in defending its airspace. Russia claimed the incursions were based on navigational errors.
Turkey has been a member of the NATO alliance since 1952, squarely aligning itself with Western powers. It has the second largest number of active personal of any NATO member, second to the United States.
As part of the NATO alliance, an attack on one member is treated as an attack on all – therefore, any Russian incursion in Turkey is of special significance. A conflict between Turkey and Russia could oblige other NATO members to intervene.
NATO – and Turkey in particular – have called for Russia to abandon military operations in Syria. But Russia looks set to intensify military campaigns in an effort to expand military operations.
Image credit: NATO