Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan warned Russia not to “play with fire” on Friday, but added he did not want to harm relations with Moscow, comments that look more likely to inflame than quell the dispute over a downed Russian bomber this week.
Relations between the former Cold War antagonists are at their worst in recent memory after Turkey shot down the jet near the Syrian border on Monday. Russia has threatened economic retaliation against Ankara, which Erdogan has dismissed as “emotional” and “unfitting”.
“We very sincerely recommend to Russia not to play with fire,” Erdogan told supporters during a speech in Bayburt, in northeast Turkey. “We really attach a lot of importance to our relations with Russia… We don’t want these relations to suffer harm in any way.”
Erdogan said he may speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a climate summit in Paris next week, a discussion that would be welcomed by the United States and EU, both of which fear the spat has distracted from the battle against Islamic State militants in Syria.