Russia says downing of Turkish plane not provocation

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 26, 2012 11:08 AM
Russia says downing of Turkish plane not provocation

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia on Tuesday said Syria's shooting down of a Turkish warplane should not be seen as a provocation and warned world powers against using the incident to push for stronger action against Damascus.

The comments were Moscow's first reaction to Friday's downing of a Turkish military aircraft by Syrian air defenses.

Turkey's NATO allies on Tuesday condemned Syria's action as unacceptable but stopped short of threatening any military response. Turkey also plans to approach the U.N. Security Council.

"We think it is important that what happened is not viewed as a provocation or a premeditated action (by Syria)," Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement on its website.

Any political escalation would be "extremely dangerous" and threaten a Syrian peace plan drawn up by U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, the ministry added.

Russia has used its power of veto in the U.N. Security Council to shield Syria from harsher international sanctions over Damascus's crackdown on a 16-month revolt.

Moscow, one of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's few remaining allies, repeated its view that Annan's plan was the only way to end the bloodshed in Syria.

"Once again, we call on all sides to act exclusively in the interests of such an agenda (the peace plan) and not to take steps that go beyond its limits," the ministry said.

"We believe that the best course of action is restraint and constructive interaction between the Turkish and Syrian sides in order to clarify all the circumstances of the incident."

(Reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel; Editing by Andrew Heavens)