A tweet has possibly made tensions with Russia worse after the downing of a Russian jet in November. It seems that Turkey’s MP is more than willing to bring up the subject again and all it took was one basketball game.
It started with a lone tweet from Samil Tayyar, the MP from Turkey’s ruling AKP party. Moments after Turkey’s Fenerbahce basketball team lost to Russia’s CSKA 101-96 during overtime in the Euroleague final on Saturday, Tayyar posted a supposedly casual tweet.
However, it also came with an implicit undertone. It read, “İnsanın bir Rus uçağı daha düşüresi geliyor!” which translates to “Another Russian jet should be dropped.”
Turkey has long made it clear that its own F-16 jets shot down the Russian Su-24 because it had violated Turkish airspace. There were two Russian jets flying in the area that day.
The first one had managed to leave Turkey unharmed while the other was fired on and crashed onto the Syrian side of Turkey’s border with Syria. One pilot had died as a result of this incident. A marine who is part of the group rescuing the pilot was also killed by militants during the operation.
Following the incident, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation issued a statement saying that the Russian jets were performing “counterterrorist missions” when it was shot down by the Turkish Air Force.
More importantly, the statement also read, “The Defence Ministry considers actions of the Turkish Air Force as an unfriendly act. At present, the Russian Defence Ministry is designing a complex of measures directed to respond such incidents.”
According to a report from RT, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had denied ever ordering for the Turkish Air Force to shoot down the Russian jet last year. During an interview with channel NTV, he said “I did not give the order to shoot down that plane.” He also remarked that since the Russian jet was only in Turkish airspace for all of 17 seconds, it would have been impossible for him to issue any orders.
Moreover, he explained, “the prime minister issues instructions to enact threat response guidelines. These guidelines are not new and they are applied without my orders.”
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has also accused the U.S. of having something to do with the downing of one of Russia’s jets. According to a previous report from the BBC, Putin said that the U.S., “which leads the coalition that Turkey belongs to, knew about the location and time of our planes’ flights, and we were hit exactly there and at that time.”
The U.S. state department has since denied this allegation while pointing out the Russia never informed U.S. about the flight ahead of schedule.
As for Tayyar, RT reported that the MP later tweeted that his previous remark was just meant to “take the heat off.” It’s safe to say, however, that his remarks on the Russian jet did anything but.