Russia had expressed protest at the grounding of a Moscow-Damascus passenger jet by Turkish authorities who accused it of carrying “illegal cargo”.
Turkish F-16 fighter jets forced down the Syrian Air Airbus A320 some three hours after it had taken off from Moscow’s Vnukovo international airport.
Turkey eventually permitted the A320 to resume its flight after a five-hour inspection of the aircraft, resulting in the seizure of a number of items.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told national media: “There is illegal cargo on the plane that should have been reported.”
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the intercepted plane was carrying Russian-made military gear and ammunition destined for the Syrian military.
Reaction on the situation, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Alexander Lukashevich said: “We are concerned that the life and security of the passengers, including 17 Russian nationals, was endangered.”
He said Turkey had not informed Russia that its nationals were on board and that Russian embassy officials and doctors had been denied access to the plane.
“Russia insists on an explanation of such behavior with regard to the Russian nationals and demands that measures be taken to prevent any such incidents happening in the future,” he said.
Meanwhile, the US said it supported Turkey’s decision to force the plane down and indicated it would raise the matter with Russia.
“We strongly support the government of Turkey’s decision to inspect the plane,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, adding that Washington was “concerned by any effort to supply military equipment to the Assad regime.”