Russia unilaterally suspends visa-free deal with Turkey

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov says that Russia has decided to suspend visa-free agreement with Turkey starting from January 1, 2016

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attends a meeting in Moscow, Russia on November, 27,2015

Russia has decided to unilaterally suspend its visa exemption for Turkish citizens starting from Jan. 1, 2016, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Friday.

Addressing a press conference in Moscow on Friday, Lavrov said: "We will suspend the visa-free agreement between Turkey and Russia from Jan. 1, 2016."

He said that the suspension was "for the sake of security of Russia and its citizens".

The latest Russian move comes after two Turkish F-16 fighter jets on an aerial patrol intercepted an unidentified warplane Tuesday within engagement rules when it intruded into Turkish airspace on the Turkey-Syria border.

The intruding aircraft was warned about the violation 10 times within five minutes before it was shot down.

The Russian Defense Ministry later announced that its Russian SU-24 bomber jet had been shot down. It crashed in the Syrian region of Bayirbucak close to the Yayladagi district of Turkey's southern Hatay province.

NATO confirmed the accuracy of information shared by Turkey about the violation.

It was not the first time Russian fighter jets had violated Turkish airspace. In early October, Russian warplanes breached Turkish airspace. Russian officials apologised and pledged that no such incident would be repeated.

Turkey had also renewed its warning on engagement rules, including a military response against violations of Turkish airspace.