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MOSCOW — Russia broke off all military communication with Turkey on Thursday, including a hotline to coordinate airstrikes in Syria — the latest sign of deteriorating relations between the two countries after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane.
“Today, in accordance with the decision made earlier, all communication channels between the Russian Defense Ministry and the Turkish armed forces have been discontinued," Russia's Defense Ministry announced on its website Thursday. “This concerns not just a so-called hotline deployed to exclude possible air incidents during the destruction of terrorist infrastructure targets in Syria."
A representative of Russia's navy stationed in Turkey and working as a liaison between Russia's Black Sea Fleet and Turkey's navy was also recalled, the statement added.
Tuesday's shooting down of the warplane on the Syria-Turkey border resulted in the death of one of its pilots and a sailor who was sent to rescue the crew in an area controlled by Syrian militants trying to unseat President Bashar Assad.
It was also the first time any NATO-member country has brought down a Russian jet since 1952.
Moscow vehemently denies Turkey's claims that the jet had strayed into Turkish territory and was warned 10 times in five minutes before the plane was blasted out of the sky.
Turkey and Russia are on opposite sides of the Syrian civil war with Turkey opposing Assad and Russia working to prop him up — sometimes through airstrikes, according to the West.
Tuesday's incident ratcheted up East-West tensions and threatened to scupper international efforts to defeat ISIS and find a diplomatic solution to the Syrian civil war.
Russia also plans to retaliate against Turkey by imposing sanctions, cutting economic ties and scrapping major investment projects. Moscow has already restricted tourism, left Turkish trucks stranded at the border and confiscated large quantities of Turkish food imports.