Russian warship fires warning shots

Tensions between nations increase.

Russian warship fires warning shots at Turkish fishing boat

Russia says one of its warships fired warning shots at a Turkish fishing boat in the Aegean Sea to avoid a collision.

A Russian defence ministry statement said the Turkish vessel approached to 600m (1,800ft) before turning away in response to Russian small arms fire.

The captain of the Turkish boat said he was unaware that his vessel had been shot at.

The Turkish military attache in Moscow has been summoned to the foreign ministry over the incident.

Relations remain tense between the two countries since Turkey’s shooting down of a Russian warplane.

“We are not in favour of tension,” Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was quoted as saying after the incident.

“We have always been in favour of overcoming tensions through dialogue rather than conflict.”

The captain of the Turkish vessel told Dogan news agency he did not realise his boat had been shot at.

“We were not aware that they had fired shots at us,” Muzaffer Gecici said. “We have video footage and we have handed this to the coastguard. We didn’t even know it was a Russian ship.”

In November, a Russian Su-24 aircraft was shot down by two Turkish F-16s in the Turkish border-Syria area. Turkey maintained the plane had crossed into its airspace, although Russia disputed this.

And last week, Turkey complained over what it said was a sailor on a Russian naval ship brandishing a missile launcher as the vessel passed through Istanbul. Russia rejected the criticism, saying the crew had a “legal right” to protect the ship.

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Timeline: Russia-Turkey tensions

24 November – A Turkish F-16 fighter jet shoots down a Russian Su-24 attack aircraft, allegedly because it violated Turkish airspace. Russia denies the claim and insists the aircraft was in Syrian airspace. A Russian pilot is killed parachuting from the jet, and a Russian marine is killed in a subsequent mission that rescues the other pilot.

28 November – With Turkey refusing to apologise over the incident, Russia announces a package of economic sanctions against Turkey, including restrictions on imports and travel.

6 December – Turkey condemns Russian “provocation” after Turkish media publish an image showing a Russian serviceman holding a rocket launcher aboard a warship passing through the Bosphorus.

13 December – A Russian warship fires “warning shots” at a Turkish fishing vessel that it says was approaching it in the Aegean Sea.

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In the latest incident, Russia’s defence ministry said its destroyer Smetlivy was anchored just off the Greek island of Lemnos on Sunday morning when it spotted the Turkish fishing boat heading towards it some 1,000m away.

“Despite numerous attempts by the crew of the Smetlivy, the crew of the Turkish fishing boat did not make radio contact and did not respond to visual signals by semaphore or warning flares,” the ministry said in a statement.

To prevent a collision, “small arms were fired in the direction of the Turkish vessel from a range that is not lethal”.

The ministry said that “immediately after that the Turkish vessel drastically changed course” and passed within half a kilometre of the Smetlivy, still making no contact with the Russian crew.

Russian military vessels are involved in Russia’s intervention against rebels in Syria.

President Vladimir Putin described as a “stab in the back” Turkey’s downing of the Russian bomber and has imposed economic sanctions.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu warned on Friday that Ankara’s patience with Russia was “not unlimited”, and accused Moscow of using “every opportunity” to punish Turkey for the downing of the plane.


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