Turkey closes its airspace to Russian planes flying to Syria

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Turkey announced it has closed its airspace to Russian planes flying to Syria, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has been quoted as saying by local media.

State TV channel TRT Haber quoted Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu as saying on April 23 that Turkey had closed all airspace to military and civilian aircraft carrying Russian troops and weapons to Syria.

The decision was made after Ankara held consultations with Moscow.

As a NATO member state, Turkey maintains good relations with both Russia and Ukraine and has sought to mediate in the ongoing war between the two countries.

“We have closed the airspace to Russian military aircraft, even to civilian aircraft flying to Syria with troops,” Cavusoglu told reporters on a flight to Uruguay.

“We closed the airspace to Russia’s military planes – and even civilian ones – flying to Syria. They had until April, and we asked in March,” Turkish media quoted Cavusoglu as saying on Saturday.

Cavusoglu said that he passed the decision on to his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov. The Russian foreign minister also later moved on to President Vladimir Putin.

“One or two days later, they said: Putin has issued an order, we will not fly any more,” Cavusoglu was quoted as telling Turkish reporters on board his plane to Uruguay.

Currently, the Russian side has not given any official response to Turkey’s announcement. Russia and Iran are two important backers of President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian civil war, while Turkey backs the rebels there.

Ankara’s relationship with Moscow briefly fractured after Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet near the Turkish-Syrian border in 2015.

However, relations between the two countries had improved significantly until the time before Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine. Turkey considers Ukraine to be its important trading partner and diplomatically.

According to Cavusoglu, negotiations are continuing between Russia and Ukraine and the parties are working towards a draft joint statement. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy have agreed that a meeting could be held in Turkey.

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