Turkey has closed its airspace to Russian civilian and military aircraft heading for Syria, Turkish media reported on Saturday, citing Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
So far, the announcement is seen as one of the strongest responses from Turkey, which has close ties with Moscow despite its NATO membership, to the long-lasting Russian invasion of Ukraine. since two months.
“We closed the airspace to Russian military aircraft, as well as civilian aircraft, flying to Syria. We announced it in March and the deadline expired in April,” Cavusoglu said.
Cavusoglu noted that he informed his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, of the decision, which he then conveyed to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“After a day or two they said, ‘Putin gave the order, we won’t fly anymore,'” he said, according to Turkish journalists who accompanied him on the plane for the trip. ‘Uruguay.
He explained that the flight ban will last three months.
Russia did not immediately respond to the Turkish announcement.
Ankara’s relations with Moscow briefly crumbled after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane near the Turkish-Syrian border in 2015, but had started to improve until the Russian invasion of Ukraine , which Turkey considers an important trading partner and diplomatic ally.
Turkey is trying to broker an end to the conflict in Ukraine, as it hosted meetings between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators in Istanbul and another meeting between Lavrov and his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba in Antalya.
Ankara is currently seeking to arrange a summit in Istanbul between Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky, although Cavusoglu acknowledged that the possibility of similar talks is still slim.