By Aleksandar Vasovic
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he had heard ‘nothing new’ from his Turkish counterpart on Thursday after the first high-level bilateral contact between the two countries since the Turkish airforce shot down a Russian jet nine days ago.
Moscow and Ankara are deeply at odds over what happened when Turkey downed the Russian SU-24 fighter bomber near the Syrian border as it took part in the Kremlin’s air campaign against militants in Syria.
Russian President Vladimir Putin branded the incident a war crime on Thursday and said Turkey would face further sanctions. Moscow has already banned some Turkish food imports as part of a wider package of retaliatory sanctions.
“We met with the head of the Turkish Foreign Ministry on his insistent request. We heard nothing new,” Lavrov told a televised news conference.
He said Russia had reiterated its own position during the meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on the sidelines of a conference of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in the Serbian capital Belgrade.
Turkey says the Russian jet violated its airspace and that it was repeatedly warned, something Russia has denied.
Cavusoglu was quoted by Turkish state broadcaster TRT as saying it would be unrealistic to expect all problems to be solved with Russia after a single meeting, but that it was important to keep communication channels open.
Cavusoglu told the OSCE conference: “The incident on the 24th of November … should not be confused with our fighting against our common enemy of Daesh, terrorism and should not be abused for political objectives.”
Daesh is an Arabic term for the Islamic State jihadist group, which has seized swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq.