As tensions run high following the downing of a Russian jet by Turkish warplanes, the NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg is calling for all sides in the conflict to remain calm.
“What we are calling for now is calm and de-escalation,” he said during a news conference in Brussels. “Diplomacy and de-escalation are important to resolve this question.”
Stoltenberg also urged further talks between Moscow and Ankara to resolve the situation, and that the international community should “avoid accidents that spiral out of control.”
“I welcome further contact between Moscow and Ankara,” he said, adding that “transparency, predictability and various means to reduce risks” are of primary importance in the current security environment.
This sentiment was also echoed by US President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande.
“It’s very important for us right now to make sure both the Russians and the Turks are talking to each other to find out exactly what happened and take measures to discourage any kind of an escalation,” Obama told reporters on Tuesday.
“We can see what the risks are otherwise, the risks of escalation,” Holland said.
Stoltenberg did, however, insist that NATO stands behind Turkey, and rejects any notion that the incident occurred beyond Turkey’s borders.
“This event goes beyond the fight against terrorism… Today’s loss is related to a stab in the back, carried out against us by accomplices of terrorists,” Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters following the incident. On Tuesday, Turkish F-16s shot down a Russian Su-24M Fencer which they claim had violated Turkish airspace. Russia has maintained that its warplanes never entered Turkey – a fact confirmed by Syrian air defense command – and were conducting legitimate operations over Syria, where Moscow has been targeting the self-proclaimed Islamic State terrorist group.
“I cannot describe what happened today in any other way.”
According to preliminary information provided by the Russian military’s General Staff, one of the pilots was shot after ejecting from the jet.