Russia warship fires warning shots at Turkish boat in Aegean
Russia says one of its warships was forced to fire warning shots at a Turkish boat in the Aegean Sea to avoid a collision.
The Russian Defense Ministry said on Sunday that the incident took place earlier in the day off Greece’s Lemnos Island, adding that Turkey’s military attaché in Moscow was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry over the incident.
“At 9:03 a.m. Moscow time, the ship’s sailors on duty detected a Turkish vessel at a distance of some 1,000 meters that was approaching the starboard side of the anchored surveillance ship Smetlivy,” the Russian Defense Ministry’s press service said.
The Turkish boat had refused to establish radio contact with the Russian ship despite several attempts and even ignored the visual signals sent by Russian sailors, the press service said.
“As the Turkish seine boat sailed about 600 meters close to the Russian surveillance ship, in order to prevent the ships’ collision, small arms were used along the Turkish vessel’s path at a guaranteed survivability distance,” it added.
The Turkish boat immediately changed its course and sailed past the Russian warship at a distance of 540 meters, it concluded.
The incident could increase tensions between Turkey and Russia that have been locked in a war of words since November 24, when Turkey downed the Russian Su-24 fighter jet over Syria, claiming that it had entered Turkish airspace, an accusation strongly rejected by Moscow.
Of the two pilots aboard the warplane, one was rescued with the help of the Syrian army, but the other was wounded by militant fire while he was parachuting down and was killed on the ground.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called the incident a “stab in the back” and imposed economic sanctions against Ankara as a retaliatory measure.
Russia has also condemned the recent deployment of Turkish forces to northern Iraq as an incursion.
Earlier this week, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said it considered Ankara’s dispatch of its forces “illegal” and “a very serious factor of tensions,” emphasizing that “the forces arrived there without the approval of the Iraqi government.”