Former US ambassador backs Turkey for downing Russian jet

Published 26.11.2015 00:00
Updated 26.11.2015 14:53

A former U.S. ambassador on Wednesday maintained Turkey's right to defend itself by downing a Russian jet that violated its airspace.

International law recognizes a nation's right to protect its airspace against foreign incursions, according to former ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst. He told Anadolu Agency that Turkey's version of events is corroborated by NATO.

"Turkey sent numerous warnings before shooting. That suggests that Turkey was fully in its rights in this incident," said Herbst.

Noting Russian claims that its plane did not violate Turkish airspace, Herbst added: "To ?prove' this, the Ministry [of Defense of Russia] provided maps and radar date. Unfortunately for Moscow, bellingcat - social media experts in Great Britain, report that the radar data and map are mutually inconsistent. So Moscow's evidence proves nothing."

He suggested that Turkey should call for a UN inquiry into the incident.

Herbst, whose tenure in Ukrain lasted from 2003 to 2006, also served in the same position in Uzbekistan. He warned Russia against military action in response to the incident, noting that it would be dangerous if Moscow takes a military posture against a NATO member.

Russia might, however, take economic measures against Turkey such as banning commercial flight to the country, he said.

"Russian policy in Syria has been strongly anti-western. It has spent most of its time bombing the weak opponents of the [Bashar al] Assad regime supported by Turkey and other western powers, instead of ISIL," he added.

While conducting air operations against opposition, Russian jets regularly intruded the airspace of a NATO ally and those were actually "not accidents," he said.

On November 24, two Turkish F-16 fighter jets on an aerial patrol intercepted a Russian warplane within rules of engagement when it violated Turkish airspace near the Syrian border.

The Russian warplane received 10 warnings about its violation within five minutes before it was shot down.

This was not the first time Russian warplanes had violated Turkish airspace. In October, Russian warplanes violated Turkish airspace. Russian officials had apologized and pledged that such incidents would not reoccur in the future.

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