World

Russia orders sanctions against Turkey after Russian plane downing

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday called for sanctions against Turkey, following the downing this week by Turkey of a Russian warplane.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan voices regret over the incident, saying he is 'truly saddened'

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, left, seen in Moscow in September with Russian President Vladimir Putin, said he wishes a Russian warplane had not been shot down near the Turkish-Syrian border last Tuesday. (Ivan Sekretarev/Reuters)

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday called for sanctions against Turkey, following the downing this week by Turkey of a Russian warplane.

The decree published on the Kremlin's website Saturday came hours after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had voiced regret over the incident, saying his country was "truly saddened" by the event and wished it hadn't occurred.

The decree includes a ban on some goods and forbids extensions of labour contracts for Turks working in Russia as of Jan. 1. It doesn't specify what goods are to be banned or give other details, but it also calls for ending chartered flights from Russia to Turkey and for Russian tourism companies to stop selling vacation packages that would include a stay in Turkey.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev earlier in the week had ordered his cabinet to develop a list of goods to be sanctioned.

Putin's decree also calls for ending visa-free travel between Russia and Turkey and orders the tightening of control over Turkish air carriers in Russia "for security reasons." The decree was issued "to protect Russian citizens from crimes," a Kremlin statement said.

1st expression of regret

Erdogan's expression of regret Saturday was the first since Tuesday's incident in which Turkish F-16 jets shot down the Russian jet on grounds that it had violated Turkey's airspace despite repeated warnings to change course. It was the first time in half a century that a NATO member shot down a Russian plane and drew a harsh response from Moscow.

"We are truly saddened by this incident," Erdogan said. "We wish it hadn't happened as such, but unfortunately such a thing has happened. I hope that something like this doesn't occur again."

Addressing supporters in the western city of Balikesir, Erdogan said neither country should allow the incident to escalate and take a destructive form that would lead to "saddening consequences."

He renewed a call for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of a climate conference in Paris next week, saying it would be an opportunity to overcome tensions.

Erdogan defends Turkey's action

Erdogan's friendly overture however, came after he again vigorously defended Turkey's action and criticized Russia for its operations in Syria.

An image taken from video shows a trail of flames coming from a Russian warplane shot down near the Turkish-Syrian border on Tuesday. (Haberturk TV/EPA)

"If we allow our sovereign rights to be violated ... then the territory would no longer be our territory," Erdogan said.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu also said he hoped a meeting between Erdogan and Putin would take place in Paris.

"In such situations it is important to keep the channels of communication open," he said.

Putin has denounced the Turkish action as a "treacherous stab in the back," and has insisted that the plane was downed over Syrian territory in violation of international law. He has also refused to take telephone calls from Erdogan. Putin's foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov, said Friday that the Kremlin had received Erdogan's request for a meeting, but wouldn't say whether such a meeting is possible.

Asked why Putin hasn't picked up the phone to respond to Erdogan's two phone calls, he said that "we have seen that the Turkish side hasn't been ready to offer an elementary apology over the plane incident."

After the incident, Russia deployed long-range S-400 air defense missile systems to a Russian air base in Syria just 50 kilometres south of the border with Turkey to help protect Russian warplanes, and the Russian military warned it would shoot down any aerial target that would pose a potential threat to its planes.

Russia has since also left Turkish trucks stranded at the border, confiscated large quantities of Turkish food imports and started preparing a raft of broader economic sanctions.

On Saturday Turkey issued a travel warning urging its nationals to delay non-urgent and unnecessary travel to Russia, saying Turkish travellers were facing "problems" in the country. It said Turks should delay travel plans until "the situation becomes clear."

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