MADRID (AP) — The U.S. does not believe Russia’s incursion into Turkey’s airspace was an accident, a senior U.S. official said Monday, adding that urgent talks are underway on what to do about the weekend incident.
The official said the event is the type of unprofessional military conduct that U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter spoke with the Russian defense minister about during their recent phone call. Russia has acknowledged the plane entered Turkish airspace, but has said it was an accident.
Speaking at a press conference Monday in Spain, Carter said the U.S. is conferring with Turkish leaders about the airspace violation and that the issue will come up later this week at the NATO meeting of defense ministers.
The senior official said that Carter has not yet had any direct discussions with Turkish officials. The official was not authorized to discuss the talks publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
During a speech earlier Monday morning at the Center for Advanced Studies of National Defense, Carter alluded to the incident, calling on Russia “to act in a safe and professional manner” and to uphold international standards for safety and respect the sovereignty of all nations, specifically Turkey.
Carter said that Russia’s ongoing military action in Syria against moderate groups “has escalated the civil war, putting further at risk the very political resolution and preservation of Syria’s structure of future governance it says that it wants. This approach is tantamount to pouring gasoline on the fire of the Syrian civil war.”
He said he continues to hope that Russian President Vladimir Putin “will see that tethering Russia to a sinking ship is a losing strategy” and that it will go after Islamic State targets rather than using its airstrikes to hit Assad’s opposition.
Carter is on a week long trip to Europe, including stops in Spain, Italy and London, and will also attend the NATO meeting, which is expected to focus on Russia’s recent launch of military airstrikes in Syria.
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