Two Russian warships crossed Turkey's Bosphorus Strait Tuesday headed towards the Black Sea, Turkish media reported as Russia and the West were locked in a standoff over Ukraine's Crimean peninsula.
Turkey's state-run Anatolia news agency, carrying a picture of one of the warships, said Russia had "summoned" the vessels back to its Black Sea fleet to strengthen its military presence in Crimea.
A Ukrainian vessel was also seen crossing the Dardanelles Strait off Turkey's west coast and was expected to enter the Black Sea, the agency said.
The Turkish military said that it scrambled eight F-16 jets on Monday after a Russian spy plane was detected flying parallel to its Black Sea coast.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke on the phone late Tuesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin and said it was the responsibility of Ukrainians to resolve their country's crisis.
Erdogan also emphasized that the "instability (in Ukraine) would have a grave impact on the entire region", a statement from his office said.
Turkey, a NATO ally, has repeatedly voiced fears about the fate of the Turkish-speaking Tatar minority in Crimea, which was part of the Ottoman Empire until it was conquered by Russia in the late 18th century.
© 2014 AFP
Date: Mar 4, 2014