Turkey denies Russian jets traveling to Syria access to its airspace: FM
Turkey–Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was cited in local media as stating that Turkey had closed its airspace to Russian commercial and military planes traveling to Syria. “We blocked Russian military jets — and even civilian flights – from travelling to Syria.” They had till April, and we asked in March,” Cavusoglu said on Saturday, according to Turkish media.
Cavusoglu said he informed his Russian colleague Sergey Lavrov of the decision, who then informed President Vladimir Putin. On board his jet to Uruguay, Cavusoglu was cited as telling Turkish reporters, “One or two days later, they said: Putin has given an order, we will not fly any more.” The prohibition will be in effect for three months, according to Cavusoglu.
Russia, which, together with Iran, has been a significant ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during the country’s civil conflict, has yet to respond to Turkey’s declaration. Throughout the crisis, Turkey has backed Syrian rebels. After Turkey shot down a Russian warplane along the Turkish-Syrian border in 2015, Ankara’s relations with Moscow momentarily deteriorated.
They had been improving, though, until Russia invaded Ukraine, which Turkey regards as a crucial trading partner and diplomatic friend. Turkey has been attempting to mediate a resolution to the dispute, organizing sessions in Istanbul between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators and another in Antalya between Lavrov and his Ukrainian colleague Dmytro Kuleba.
Ankara is currently attempting to arrange a meeting between Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Istanbul, though Cavusoglu admitted that such discussions are unlikely at this time. Cavusoglu was cited as stating, “If they want a deal, it’s inevitable.” “It might take a long time, but it could happen at any time.”