Moscow (AFP) – Russia’s defence ministry on Wednesday accused Turkey of breaching the Open Skies treaty by refusing to allow a reconnaissance plane to overfly its territory near Syria, the latest salvo in an ongoing row as relations between the two countries hits a post-Cold War low.
“This creates a dangerous precedent over a lack of control of the military activity of a member state of the Open Skies treaty,” the ministry said.
The Russian plane’s itinerary for February 1-5 was transmitted to the Turkish army in advance but authorisation was refused with Ankara authorities claiming to have never received the request, the defence ministry added in a statement.
The 2002 Open Skies treaty, signed by over 30 nations including Russia, Turkey, the EU and the US, establishes a programme of unarmed aerial surveillance flights giving all participants the ability to gather information about military forces and activities of concern to them.
It’s aim is to boost mutual understanding and confidence.
Ties between Ankara and Moscow plummeted after Turkey, a key NATO member, shot down a Russian fighter jet on the Syrian border in November, sparking a war of words with Russia which insisted its plane had not crossed into Turkish airspace.
Russia launched a massive air campaign in Syria in September against rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, a long-time Moscow ally whom Turkey bitterly opposes.
Ankara on Saturday accused Moscow of a fresh violation of its airspace by a Russian Su-34 plane.
The Russian defence ministry dismissed the claim as “baseless propaganda”.