A NATO RQ-4 Global Hawk drone was spotted apparently taking a circuitous route to avoid entering Turkish airspace as it flew at 52,000ft over the Black Sea. Turkey positioned itself as a mediator between Ukraine and Russia from the start of the war, and has faced criticism for doing so. It has also come under fire from Volodymyr Zelensky after the country moved to boost tourist arrivals from Russia, despite its position as mediator and NATO membership.
Global Hawk drones are high-altitude, remotely operated surveillance aircraft.
@CivMilAir on Twitter spotted the NATO drone’s unusual movement on FlightRadar24, stating it was “avoiding Turkish airspace”.
Avoiding crossing into Turkish territory could be a move by NATO to avoid placing Turkey into a difficult diplomatic situation due to its close ties with Russia.
Turkey has unabashedly labelled the conflict in Ukraine a “war,” rejecting Putin’s rhetoric used by the despot to downplay the seriousness of the invasion.
The country has also blocked Russian warships from the Black Sea and has sold devastatingly effective Bayraktar drones to Ukrainian forces, to Moscow’s outrage.
However, Ankara has also frustrated Kyiv by refusing to sanction the invaders.
Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalın said the world cannot afford “to burn bridges with Russia.”
The drone spotting was not the first instance of a NATO aircraft seemingly avoiding Turkey.
@CivMilAir recorded several instances of this occurrence, tweeting one next to a satellite image showing a Russian plane entering the country, and saying: “1) A NATO Global Hawk drone returning to base, avoiding Turkish airspace.
“2) A Russian registered plane from Moscow heading into Turkish airspace.
“Yep! Turkey – the only NATO member country that still allows Russian reg planes to come & go freely.”
Politico reports that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is “treading a delicate tightrope” in his relationship with Putin.
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Zelensky challenged the Turkish government to decide “are you in favour of truth or not” during an interview with Greek state television station ERT.
He said: “On the one hand, Turkey acts as a mediator and supports Ukraine with important steps, and on the other hand, we see, for example, preparing several tourist routes at the same time, especially for Russian tourism.
“You cannot deal with it that way, it’s a double standard. This is not fair. That is why I draw Turkey’s attention to such possibilities.
“I believe that it cannot be so, because a choice must be made – are you in favour of the truth or not?”