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Turkey summons Russian envoy over new airspace violation

Turkey says it has summoned the Russian ambassador after a Russian jet violated its airspace. The incident comes two months after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane, setting off a breakdown in relations.

Turkey's Foreign Ministry said in a statement Saturday that the Russian jet was warned several times in Russian and English before it entered Turkish territory.

"A Su-34 plane belonging to the Russian Federation air force violated Turkish airspace at 11:46 local time yesterday (Friday)," the ministry said, adding that it had summoned the Russian ambassador to "strongly protest" the violation. It did not specify where the infringement had taken place.

The statement also accused Russia of escalating tensions and said Moscow would be held responsible for any "dire" consequences resulting from "such irresponsible acts."

"We openly and clearly call on Russia to act responsibly so that the Turkish air space, which is a NATO airspace, is not violated," it said.

There was no immediate response from Moscow.

In November, Turkey shot down a Russian warplane near the border with Syria, killing a pilot. Ankara alleged the Su-24 bomber violated its airspace after flying too close to the Syrian-Turkish border, a claim rejected by Moscow.

The incident sparked the biggest crisis in bilateral relations since the end of the Cold War, with Russia introducing retaliatory economic measures and a more aggressive military stance against Turkey.

The two countries are also at odds over the conflict in Syria. While Russia is a key ally of President Bashar Assad and has launched airstrikes against his opponents, Turkey argues his ouster is crucial to ending the five-year Syrian civil war.

nm/gsw (AP, Reuters, AFP)

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