Summit between Putin and Erdogan a no-go

A Russian submarine being escorted by a Turkish Navy Coast Guard boat in the Bosphorus, on its way to the Black Sea, on Sunday. Yesterday, a Russian-run energy firm in Crimea said a Turkish vessel did not give way to a convoy of Russian ships, includ
A Russian submarine being escorted by a Turkish Navy Coast Guard boat in the Bosphorus, on its way to the Black Sea, on Sunday. Yesterday, a Russian-run energy firm in Crimea said a Turkish vessel did not give way to a convoy of Russian ships, including a destroyer, which was transporting drilling rigs in the Black Sea.PHOTO: REUTERS

Moscow scraps meeting as naval incidents worsen bilateral ties

MOSCOW • A bilateral summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan planned for today in St Petersburg will now not happen, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said yesterday.

The summit was agreed upon during a meeting between the two leaders in Turkey on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit last month which predated Ankara's shooting down of a Russian military jet near the Syrian-Turkish border.

"It won't happen; it's not planned," Mr Peskov said of the summit when asked about it by reporters yesterday.

Ties between Moscow and Ankara have sharply deteriorated since the downing of the Russian jet on Nov 24, a move described by Mr Putin as "a dastardly stab in the back".

Moscow has imposed economic sanctions on Turkey, and Mr Putin, clearly referring to Turkish forces, ordered Russian armed forces last Friday to "shoot down immediately any target" which threatens the country's troops or infrastructure in Syria.

Meanwhile, a Russian-run energy firm in Crimea yesterday said a Turkish vessel did not give way to a convoy of Russian ships, including a destroyer, which was transporting drilling rigs in the Black Sea.

"Acting in violation of international norms preventing a collision of ships at sea and commonly accepted norms of navigation, a Turkish vessel did not give way to the convoy," said Chernomorneftegaz, a state energy company based in the Crimea peninsula annexed by Moscow.

The company claimed in a statement that a trade vessel flying a Turkish flag had created "an emergency situation" and had not responded to radio signals.

A patrol boat of the Russian FSB security service's border guard and a missile boat of the Russian Black Fleet forced the Turkish vessel to change course before the convoy continued its journey, the energy company said. It did not specify when the incident took place. The Defence Ministry did not immediately provide a comment.

The new incident involving Russian warships came after the Defence Ministry said a Russian destroyer in the Aegean Sea on Sunday opened fire to avoid a collision with a Turkish fishing boat, with Moscow summoning the Turkish military attache over the incident.

Turkey's Foreign Minister said Ankara's patience with Moscow "has a limit" after Russia's "exaggerated" reaction to the weekend naval incident between the two countries. "Ours was only a fishing boat. It seems to me that the reaction of the Russian naval ship was exaggerated," Mr Mevlut Cavusoglu told Italian daily Corriere della Sera.

"Russia and Turkey certainly have to re-establish the relations of trust that we have always had, but our patience has a limit," Mr Cavusoglu said in an interview.

The incident is likely to heighten tensions between the two nations which are at odds over Syria and Turkey's downing of the Russian warplane last month.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 15, 2015, with the headline 'Summit between Putin and Erdogan a no-go'. Print Edition | Subscribe