A Russian destroyer named Smetlivy has fired shots at a Turkish fishing boat in the Aegean Sea, close to the Greek island of Lemnos, pretexting the Putin administration to summon Ankara’s military attache in Moscow.
The Russian Defense Ministry has claimed, “On December 13, 2015, the Russian guard ship Smetlivy staying 22 km far from the Lemnos Island in the northern part of the Aegean Sea prevented the collision with a Turkish seine vessel,” in a statement released on its facebook account.
The statement has also claimed that the Turkish vessel changed its direction following Russia firing at the boat, which had a close distance -about 500 metres- to the Russian warship.
However, Muzaffer Gecici, who is the owner of the Turkish vessel Geciciler Balikcilik, has flatly denied the Russian claims saying that his boat and the Russian warship had a distance of at least 1 mile (1.6 km), speaking to the Turkish media.
He also stated that the Russian warship was not on the move and nobody heard any warning shots from the destroyer, adding that his vessel is technologically well-equipped and that he has already given footage from the incident to the Turkish Coast Guard.
Meanwhile, the Russian ministry has released another statement after it summoned Turkey’s military naval attache in Moscow, Rear Admiral Ahmet Gunes, saying that the Russian Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov had “a conversation” with Gunes.
The statement has tried to link the latest incident in the Aegean with Russia’s “counter-terrorism tasks in Syria” blaming Turkey with “reckless actions” against “the Russian military contingent” in the country.
The statement has also claimed that the Turkish vessel, which is a small civilian fisher boat, was able to provoke the Russian military guard ship Smetlivy.
“Just by good fortune, the tragedy had been avoided,” the statement kept claiming.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu responded to the incident in Rome, where he is participating in an international conference on Libya.
"We have identified the fishing boat, once we hear what the fishermen have to say about how the incident occurred, we too will release a necessary statement."
“But as we are always saying: ‘We are not in favour of tension’. We are in favour of overcoming tension through dialogue,” he added.
Turkey and Russia have been feuding each other in a political disagreement over the Syrian conflict which escalated after Turkey’s downing of the Russian warplane over its airspace violation on Nov 24.
The incident has caused a political crisis between the countries, which have strong economic ties, and has led Turkish and Russian leaders to issue warnings to one another.
Turkey's Foreign Ministry has recently summoned Andrey Karlov, the Russian Federation’s ambassador to the country, over the "provocative" passing of one of its warships through the Bosphorus on Dec.4.
A Russian soldier was photographed carrying a man-portable air-defense system, or MANPADS, on his shoulder while the Russian warship Tsezar Kunikov passed through the Bosphorus.