The announcement marks one of the strongest responses to date by Turkey, which has fostered close ties with Moscow despite being a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) defense alliance, to Russia’s two-month military offensive in Ukraine.
“We closed the airspace to Russian military aircraft – and even civilian aircraft – flying to Syria. They have until April, and we asked for it in March,” Turkish media quoted Cavusoglu as saying, quoted by AFP.
Cavusoglu said he passed the decision on to his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, who then passed it on to President Vladimir Putin.
“A day or two later, they say: Putin has issued an order, we will not fly again,” Cavusoglu told Turkish reporters aboard his plane to Uruguay. Cavusoglu added that the ban would be in effect for three months.
There was no immediate response to Turkey’s announcement from Russia, which together with Iran have been a key supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during the war-torn country’s civil war. Turkey has supported Syrian rebels throughout the conflict.
Ankara’s relations with Moscow briefly exploded after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane near the Turkey-Syria border in 2015. However, relations between the two had improved until Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which Turkey views as an important trading partner and diplomatic ally.