NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg has stated that the Atlantic alliance has defence plans for Turkey and is considering developing more plans to back up Turkey’s air defence systems against any threats after the country last week shot down a Russian fighter jet over an airspace violation in northwestern Syria near the Turkish border.
Stoltenberg said, "We have standing defence plans for Turkey and we have over the last years also augmented the air defences of Turkey and we will discuss at this meeting how we can continue to support Turkey, how we can continue to provide different kinds of assurance measures," in a doorstep statement at beginning of NATO foreign ministers meetings in Brussels on December 1.
"I would like to underline that when we now are addressing how we can continue to augment the air defences of Turkey, how we can continue to follow up the standing defence plans for Turkey," he continued.
"That is something which is not related to the incident last week because that’s something which has been going on for several years and its part of what NATO does and its part of our long term commitment to an ally, Turkey."
The incident has caused a political crisis between the countries which have strong economic ties with one another, leading Turkish and Russian leaders to issue warnings against one another.
It has been extensively reported that this is the first time a NATO member country has downed a Russian warplane since the 1950s, going back to the days of the Korean War.
Turkey became a NATO member in 1952, during the course of the Cold War, in order to counter the threat posed by the communist Soviet Union.
Stoltenberg previously declared that the alliance backs the Turkish account of the incident following an extraordinary meeting which was called by Turkey on Nov. 24, the day the shootdown happened.
He said in his latest statement that United States has already deployed its fighter jets in Turkey’s Incirlik airbase in Turkey's southern province of Adana in order to support the country’s air defence on a bilateral basis.
The NATO chief also said that Germany and Denmark will send its command ships to support NATO’s standing naval forces in the Mediterranean alongside those of other nations.
Russia, which has been carrying out air strikes in Syria since Sept. 30 on the pretext that it is targeting the DAESH terrorist group, has now deployed long-range S-400 air defense missile systems to its air base in Latakia to eliminate potential threats to its fighter jets following the incident.
Turkey and Russia disagree over how the Syrian civil war should be resolved. Turkey and the US-led coalition have consistently called on Assad to step down and backed Syrian opposition groups while Russia and Iran have supported the regime since the beginning of the conflict.
The existing disagreement worsened following the start of high-level Russian military intervention into the Syrian conflict.
Stoltenberg announced on Wednesday that NATO foreign ministers have decided to invite Montenegro to join the alliance - a move which has long been opposed by Russia.
Stoltenberg described the decision as “an important step in the Euro-Atlantic integration of the entire Western Balkans region," an area with which Russia has historic and political ties and influence.