Turkey Warns Russia Over Trade Ties

Turkey Warns Russia Over Trade Ties

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned Russia that its military action in Syria is endangering trade ties with Turkey.

Erdogan told a group of journalist en route from Brussels to Tokyo that Ankara could look elsewhere for gas supplies and cancel the construction of its first nuclear power plant, which is being built by Russia. Russia supplies 60 percent of Turkey's gas needs.

"Losing Turkey would be a serious loss for Russia," Erdogan said. "If necessary, Turkey could seek to procure natural gas from different places."

The comments, which were published Thursday in the Hurriyet newspaper, come amid tensions with Russia over airstrikes which Turkey and allies say have mainly targeted moderate Syrian opposition groups and over the Russian warplanes' violation of Turkey's air space.

In Russia, President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin had been informed about Erdogan's remarks but hoped they would not affect the relations between the two countries.

"We sincerely hope that these relations will continue to expand according to the plans mapped out by Putin and Erdogan because this cooperation is genuinely mutually beneficial and is in the interests of both our countries," Peskov told reporters on Thursday.

In his comments, Erdogan also accused Russia of attempting to increase its military presence and create a base in Syria and described the situation as "unacceptable."

Moscow is backing President Bashar Assad while Turkey insists on his ouster.

(KA)