Russia has turned on its former ally and trade partner Turkey following the downing of a Russian warplane in disputed circumstances on Tuesday, warning that diplomatic and commercial relations between the countries are at risk.
Investors around the world are closely watching rising geopolitical tensions between Russia and NATO member Turkey after a Russian SU-24 warplane was shot down by a Turkish F-16 fighter jet on Tuesday.
On Wednesday morning, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Turkey’s actions could result in the scrapping of joint projects, Russian news agency Interfax reported, and said Turkish companies could lose Russian market share.
Medvedev didn’t elaborate on which projects could be scrapped but there are a number of major bilateral trade and infrastructure deals between Turkey and Russia that could be affected, including the construction of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline and Akkuyu nuclear power plant.
Responding to the incident on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the downing “a stab in the back,” and warned it would have serious consequences for the Russian-Turkish relationship.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tried to calm tensions on Wednesday, saying Turkey had “no intention to escalate this incident.” In a televised address to business leaders Wednesday, Erdogan said Turkey was defending its own security “and the rights of our brothers” in Syria.
There are still conflicting accounts of what really happened on Tuesday but relations have been severely dented by the incident. While the authorities in Ankara claimed the SU-24 warplane had entered Turkish airspace, Moscow rejected the allegation, saying that the plane had come down 4 kilometers inside Syria.
Erdogan insisted that the plane had been shot down over Turkey but had crashed inside Syria, although a part of the plane had landed inside the Turkish border, injuring two Turkish citizens.
Speaking before a meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah, Russian President Vladimir Putin called Turkey’s downing of a Russian fighter jet “a stab in the back” carried out by the accomplices of terrorists, saying the incident would have serious consequences for Moscow’s relations with Ankara.
Putin: Downing of Russian jet a ‘stab in the back’
Later on Tuesday, Russia’s state tourism agency, Rostourism, recommended suspending sales of tour packages to Turkey following the incident, according to Reuters, and Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister who was due to visit Istanbul on Wednesday, canceled his trip, according to Russian media.
The fate of the two Russian pilots, who ejected from the plane as it descended to the ground, remains uncertain and could have an impact on the strength of Russia’s reaction. Reports suggest one was killed but another is alive. On Wednesday, the Russian defense minister said one of the pilots had been returned to a Russian base in Syria.