Thu Feb 4, 2016 2:42PM
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov

The Russian Defense Ministry spokesman says Moscow has serious grounds to suspect Turkey of preparing for a military incursion into Syria.

“The Russian Defense Ministry registers a growing number of signs of hidden preparation of the Turkish Armed Forces for active actions on the territory of Syria,” Igor Konashenkov said on Thursday.

“We are recording more and more signs of concealed preparations by the Turkish military,” he added.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova dismissed Ankara’s claims that the Russian warplanes violated the Turkish airspace, saying such “ungrounded” allegations served as a cover-up for Turkey’s increased military activity on the Syrian border.

“None of the planes from the Russian aerial group have violated Turkish airspace. None of them,” Zakharova said during her weekly press briefing on Thursday.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova 

“We've repeatedly said about problems on Syrian-Turkish border. But it seems all that ungrounded accusation against Russia used as pretext by Turkey for its own military build-up,” Zakharova said.

The Russian official said that Ankara has repeatedly failed to respond to Moscow's requests to provide any proof for its allegations.

“All our requests on details on the information have no answer,” she said.

On January 30, Turkey's Foreign Ministry said that “a Su-34 plane belonging to the Russian Federation air force violated Turkish airspace” despite radar warnings.

Following the incident Ankara summoned the Russian ambassador to “strongly protest and condemn” the violation. The ministry, however, did not specify where the incident took place.

Moscow and Ankara have been at loggerheads over developments in Syria since a foreign-backed militancy erupted in the Arab country nearly five years ago.

Turkey seeks the overthrow of the Syrian government while Russia has been supporting Damascus in the fight against terrorism.

Tensions between Moscow and Ankara sharply escalated on November 24, 2015 when Turkey downed a Russian Su-24 fighter jet over Syria, claiming that it had entered Turkish airspace, an accusation strongly rejected by Moscow.

Of the two pilots aboard the warplane, one was rescued with the help of Syrian army, but the other was killed by militants fighting the Syrian government.

Russia suspended all military deals with Turkey and imposed a number of economic sanctions on the country.