Putin in Syria: Turkey Complains After Russian Sailor Shoulders Missile Launcher In The Bosphorus

December 7, 2015
Photo: Emre Dağdeviren

The previous post in our Putin in Syria column can be found here.

Turkey Complains After Russian Sailor Shoulders Missile Launcher In The Bosphorus

The Turkish government complained this morning that the Russian military had conducted a “provocation” after a sailor was photographed wielding an anti-aircraft missile in a firing position aboard a ship passing through the Bosphorus.

Photos were taken on Friday afternoon as the Caesar Kunikov Ropucha-class landing ship of the Black Sea Fleet passed south through the strait, presumably headed to Syria.

Hurriyet reports that the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, said that the incident was a “provocation.”

“This is provocation, this is a harassing passage,” Çavuşoğlu told reporters on Dec. 6 in his hometown Antalya.

“The Russian warplanes’ violation of our airspace and the passing of the Russian warships through the Bosphorus are two very different things,” he added, referring to the Montreux Convention regarding the regime of the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits.

“The passages should be made in accordance with the international agreements, whether it is a Russian ship or of another nationality, the rules have long been determined,” Çavuşoğlu said.

He added that the “necessary answer will be given in situations deemed to be a threat.”

“The showing off of a missile by a soldier on a Russian warship, or other things such as anti-aircraft weapons, is pure provocation. I hope that this is an isolated case. It is not the right approach,” he said.

Russia’s state-owned TASS news agency reports that the Russian ambassador to Ankara, Andrei Karlov, has discussed the incident with the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

Karlov has not, so far, commented publicly on the affair.

— Pierre Vaux