Two incidents, in the Aegean and the Black Sea, have deteriorated the already bad relationship between Turkey and Russia.
According to the Russian Ministry of Defence at 09.07 on the 13th of December a Russian destroyer fired warning shots towards a Turkish fishing vessel, 13.6 nmi from the Greek island of Limnos, in the Aegean Sea.
The Russian ship was anchored in the international waters waiting the permission from the Turkish authorities to cross the Dardanelles, when at 08.30 its crew spotted a Turkish fishing vessel Geçiciler-1 sailing towards it.
The ships of the Russian Navy have received clear engagement rules from Kremlin to intercept any vessel or aircraft that might look suspicious for possible terrorist attack.
The Russian Kashin-class guided missile destroyer Smetlivy tried, according to Moscow, to contact with the crew of the Turkish vessel asking them not to approach the destroyer less than 2 miles, but did not receive any response.
Then Smetlivy then launched flares trying to warn the Turkish crew that their boat was on a collision route with the Russian destroyer.
According to the Russians the Turkish crew did not reacted to this warning as well.
When the Turkish fishing vessel approached the Russian destroyer at 600 meters, the captain of Smetlivy ordered its crew to open warning fire with their light weapons.
The Turkish vessel according to the Russian Ministry of Defence changed route just 540 meters from the destroyer.
The same day Sunday 13th of December the Russian Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov urgently invited to the Russian Defence Ministry the Turkish military attaché Rear Admiral Ahmet Gunes and made strict representation to him.
According to the Russian Deputy Defence Minister “The Turkish military attaché Rear Admiral Ahmet Gunes was warned of the possible negative consequences of Ankara’s reckless actions towards Russia’s Armed Forces which are tasked with battling international terrorism in Syria,”
As the Russian Ministry noticed, Turkish Navy Rear Admiral Ahmet Gunes promised to immediately bring Russia’s protest to Turkey’s notice.
The next day, Monday the 14th of December the captain of the Turkish fishing vessel Geçiciler-1 reported to the Turkish Coast Guard that no shots were detected from Smetlivy and that they passed the static Russian ship from a mile distance and continued with their fishing undisturbed.
The Turkish vessel is equipped with security cameras and according to its captain, video material has been handed over to the Turkish Coast Guard.
The second incident took place in the Black Sea, when a Turkish merchant vessel got in the way of a Crimean energy firm’s convoy towing two gas rigs to a new location in Russian territorial waters.
The boats of the Chernomorneftegaz were towing the gas rigs B-312 and B-319 from the Odeske natural gas field located less than 100 km away from the Ukrainian coast, closer to Crimea because of the complicated international situation.
According to the Russians the Turkish merchant vessel blocked the convoy of the boats of the Chernomorneftegaz gas company, crossing their path.
As Chernomorneftegaz stated, “Acting in violation of regulations for preventing collisions and against the generally-accepted conventions of navigation, the Turkish vessel failed to get out of the way of the convoy. It approached crossways and attempted to stop its course, thus creating potential for a collision.”
According to the company, the captain of the Turkish vessel operated radio silence despite requests to respond.
An FSB Border Guard Service patrol boat and one Black Sea Fleet missile boat were sent to the aid of the Russian convoy and chased the Turkish vessel off.