Trudeau refuses to point finger at Russia over tensions with Turkey
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has broken ranks with United States President Barack Obama and other NATO allies by refusing to blame Russia over the incident in which a Turkish warplane downed a Russian Su-24 fighter near the Turkey-Syria border yesterday.
“I don’t think we’re entirely clear on everything that happened right now and I certainly don’t think that it’s helpful to start off by me choosing to point fingers to one side or another,” the Liberal leader told reporters. “I think it’s extremely important is that we call for calm that we work together that we stand by our NATO ally absolutely but do we ensure that this incident doesn’t escalate into more such incidents.”
Earlier, Obama had blamed Russia in the immediate aftermath of the incident and declared Washington’s support for Turkey.
“I do think that this points to an ongoing problem with the Russian operations,” Obama told reporters during a joint press conference with visiting French President François Hollande. “In the sense that they are operating very close to a Turkish border, and they are going after moderate opposition that are supported by not only Turkey but a wide range of countries.”
Russia and Turkey have released conflicting maps showing the flight paths of the Su-24 and the F-16.
Moscow’s map shows the Russian plane flying entirely within Syria’s airspace and the Turkish fighter making an incursion into Syrian territory to attack the Russian plane, while Ankara’s map shows the opposite.
NATO announced that the organization agreed with Turkey’s claim that the plane was shot down over Turkish airspace and pledged to stand in solidarity with Ankara.
“The Allied assessments we have got from several Allies during the day are consistent with information we have been provided with from Turkey,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporter at press conference. “So the information we have from other Allies is consistent with what we have got from Turkey.”
The United States, however, seems to be privately disagreeing with Ankara’s assessment believing that the Russian jet shot down by Turkey on Tuesday was hit inside Syrian airspace after a brief incursion into Turkish airspace, according to top US official who spoke to Reuters on the condition of anonymity.
As Russia started deploying S-400 surface-to-air missile batteries inside Syria, Trudeau urged both sides to “de-escalate and allow for a greater level of shared purpose and actions in the operations to try to stabilize Syria.”