By Mark Rivett-Carnac
October 6, 2015

Incursions into Turkey’s airspace on Saturday and Sunday by Russian military SU-30 and SU-24 aircraft have been roundly condemned by NATO, which in a statement Monday called on Moscow to “immediately explain these violations.”

Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also summoned the Russian ambassador and warned that Russia “will be responsible for any undesired incident that may occur” in the event of further violations.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry supported Turkey’s apprehension.

“We’re greatly concerned,” he said during a conference in Chile on Monday. “It is precisely the kind of thing that, had Turkey responded under its rights, could have resulted in a shoot-down.”

For over a year, a U.S.-led coalition, which includes Turkey, has launched air strikes in Syria and Iraq against the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS). The group has run a campaign of ceaseless violence that includes mass executions, beheadings, rape and the destruction of archeological sites.

Russia also claims to be targeting terrorist organizations with the air strikes in Syria that it started launching on Sept. 30. But the West doubts these claims and has accused Moscow of instead bombing insurgents who have fought for four years to remove Russia’s longtime ally, Syria’s President Bashar Assad.

NATO demanded Russia “immediately cease its attacks on the Syrian opposition and civilians, to focus its efforts on fighting [ISIS].”

Far from fighting extremism, Kerry said Russia’s actions “guarantee much more terrorism, much more conflict, and possibly the complete destruction of the state of Syria.”

The increasingly crowded battlefield has created a situation “fraught with danger,” U.N. spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said during a daily press briefing on Monday. “I think this should really refocus people’s attention on finding … a political solution.”

Write to Mark Rivett-Carnac at mark.rivett-carnac@timeasia.com.

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