Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vassily Nebenzia, who was scheduled to pay a visit to Istanbul on Jan. 22 in what would have been the first high-level visit from Russia to Turkey since Ankara downed a Russian jet two months ago, has canceled his trip.
The Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) Permanent International Secretariat said Jan. 21 that Nebenzia had canceled his trip due to health reasons. Nebenzia was scheduled to visit the headquarters of the BSEC in Istanbul on Jan. 22 to present the priorities of the Russian Chairmanship-in-Office of BSEC.
Ties between Turkey and Russia have been strained since the former downed a warplane of the latter on Turkey's border with Syria on the grounds of an airspace violation on Nov. 24, 2015, ultimately leading to the death of two Russian soldiers. While Turkey has stated that it warned the Russian jet about its infraction multiple times, Russia denies these claims.
Following the jet crisis, Russia began imposing an embargo on Turkish goods as well as visas on Turkish travelers.
On behalf of the Russian Chairmanship-in-Office, Evgeny Stanislavov, the director of the Department of Economic Cooperation of Russia's Foreign Ministry, will visit the BSEC HQ in Istanbul on Jan. 22 and announce the priorities of the Russian chairmanship.
Representatives of the BSEC member states, related bodies, observers and sectoral dialogue partners were also set to attend the meeting.
Nebenzia called BSEC PERMIS Secretary-General Michael Christides by phone on Jan. 21, stating that he could not travel to Istanbul due to a severe case of the flu, the BSEC Permanent International Secretariat said in a written statement.