Kerry: Turkey Within Rights to Shoot Down Trespassing Russian Warplanes

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that Turkey would be within its rights to shoot down Russian warplanes that violate its airspace on Monday, after a second Russian jet was intercepted over Turkey in as many days.

Turkey summoned the Russian ambassador on Monday for a second time after a Russian warplane crossed the border from Syria and violated Turkish airspace on Sunday—a day after a similar incident on Saturday.

Speaking on a visit to Chile, Kerry said Turkey would have been within its rights to shoot the jets down. Kerry also warned of the danger of mid-air incidents occurring as a result of Russia's recent involvement in the Syrian conflict.

"We're greatly concerned about it, because it is precisely the kind of thing that, had Turkey responded under its rights, could have resulted in a shootdown," he said during a visit to Chile. "We believe that Russia has a fundamental responsibility to act in accordance with international standards here."

The Russian defence ministry said that Saturday's violation was for just a few seconds and due to poor weather, according to the BBC, although it has not issued a formal response.

The incident has already sparked condemnation from several political heavyweights. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told Turkish TV: "The Turkish armed forces are clearly instructed," and "even if it is a flying bird, it will be intercepted." However Davutoglu also said during the same broadcast that channels between the two countries remain open.

Russia began its air campaign in Syria, which the the Kremlin says is targeting Islamic State (ISIS) positions and those of other Islamist groups, last Wednesday. Russia and the U.S. have been in communication to avoid potential clashes prompting fears of an accidental clash between Russian and Western forces.

NATO, of which Turkey is a member, released a statement on Monday urging Russia to "immediately cease its attacks on the Syrian opposition and civilians" and focus on combating ISIS militants instead.

"Allies strongly protest these violations of Turkish sovereign airspace, and condemn these incursions into and violations of NATO airspace," the statement reads. "Allies also note the extreme danger of such irresponsible behavior. They call on the Russian Federation to cease and desist, and immediately explain these violations."

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