Russian foreign minister scraps visit to Turkey

The Russian warplane (above) crashing in flames in a mountainous area in northern Syria after being shot down by Turkey yesterday. Video footage on Turkish television showed a burning trail (below) left by the plane. Turkey said the plane had violate
The Russian warplane (above) crashing in flames in a mountainous area in northern Syria after being shot down by Turkey yesterday. Video footage on Turkish television showed a burning trail left by the plane. Turkey said the plane had violated its airspace, an account challenged by Moscow, which said the plane was over Syria.PHOTOS: REUTERS, EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
The Russian warplane (above) crashing in flames in a mountainous area in northern Syria after being shot down by Turkey yesterday. Video footage on Turkish television showed a burning trail (below) left by the plane. Turkey said the plane had violate
The Russian warplane crashing in flames in a mountainous area in northern Syria after being shot down by Turkey yesterday. Video footage on Turkish television showed a burning trail (above) left by the plane. Turkey said the plane had violated its airspace, an account challenged by Moscow, which said the plane was over Syria.PHOTOS: REUTERS, EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

He advises fellow citizens not to travel there after downing of Russian fighter jet

SOCHI (Russia) • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said yesterday that he would not visit Turkey as planned today, in a further sign of the increasing fallout following Turkey's downing of a Russian fighter jet.

Mr Lavrov, speaking to reporters in the southern Russian city of Sochi, advised Russians not to visit Turkey and said the threat of terrorism there was no less than in Egypt, where a bomb brought down a Russian passenger plane last month.

The downing of the Russian jet came as Russia and Syria are waging a heavy bombing campaign against targets in northern Syria, while the United States-led coalition continues its own air strikes.

Turkey has expressed anger at the Russian strikes, saying they are aimed at buttressing the Syrian regime and have displaced thousands of Turkmen Syrians, an ethnic minority in the area and strong allies of Ankara.

Russia, however, insists that its air strikes are aimed at Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants, who are also being targeted by the US-led coalition.

Turkey and Russia have long been at loggerheads over the Syrian conflict, with Ankara seeking Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's overthrow while Moscow tries to keep him in power.

Last month, the Turkish military also shot down a Russian-made drone that had entered its airspace. But Moscow denied that the drone belonged to its forces.

European Union president Donald Tusk called for calm. "In this dangerous moment after the downing of the Russian jet, all should remain cool headed and calm," tweeted Mr Tusk, who is due to host an EU summit with Turkey in Brussels on Sunday which was supposed to focus on Europe's migrant crisis.

 

Analysts warned about the implications of the tensions.

"You've got two of the most aggressive leaders facing off in proximate air space trying to prove something to the folks back home," said Mr Richard Aboulafia, an analyst at the Teal Group in Fairfax, Virginia. "This is very dangerous."

But neither side is interested in an escalation, said Mr Daniel Fiott, a researcher at the Institute for European Studies at the VUB university in Brussels. "They'll want to defuse the situation pretty quickly, because this is not something you want to have on top of all the problems in Syria at the moment," he said.

Analysts said Russia is likely to limit any response to non-military pressure on Turkey, so as not to risk a broader conflict with Nato.

Moscow is a major buyer of Turkish farm products and other goods, while Turkey is one of the largest buyers of Russian gas.

Meanwhile, one of Russia's largest tour operators to Turkey, Natalie Tours, suspended sales of packages to the country, citing the unstable political environment.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NEW YORK TIMES, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2015, with the headline 'Russian foreign minister scraps visit to Turkey'. Print Edition | Subscribe