President Vladimir Putin has again condemned the leadership in Ankara for the downing of a Russian plane last week near the Syrian-Turkish border.
Meanwhile, the Turkish people are kind, hardworking and talented. We have many good and reliable friends there.
With one dig after another today, at the Kremlin’s St George Hall before a selected audience of hundreds of people, Putin vowed to retaliate, although not militarily—with sanctions.
While insisting, “I don’t even understand why they did it,” he took care to say Russia has no quarrel with the actual people of Turkey.
Also against the backdrop of the Russian Metrojet airliner crash in Egypt in October, which Russian investigators attribute to a bomb planted on board—the radical Islamic State movement (ISIL) claim responsibility—Putin repeated a call for a new broad international coalition against terrorism.
He said: “Every civilised state must now invest in the destruction of terrorism, to confirm its solidarity, not by mere words but deeds. That means giving no refuge to bandits, no double standards, no contacts with terror organisations, no attempts to use them for their own ends, no criminal bloody business with terrorists.”
Putin has accused his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s family of directly profiting from ISIL oil smuggling into Turkey territory, which Ankara fervently denies.
Turkey is no stranger to terrorist attacks, including in Ankara, Diyarbakir, Istanbul and Suruc this year alone.
On the sidelines of the climate summit getting underway in Paris on Monday, the Russian leader snubbed Erdogan’s offer of face-to-face talks on the plane incident.
Ankara reiterated there would be no apology.
Turkey insists the fighter bomber violated its air space and was warned repeatedly before being shot down. Russia says it had not strayed from Syrian air space.
In his annual national address, Putin fired off salvo after salvo of rhetoric: “We will not forgive any support given to terrorists. Let those in Turkey who shot our pilots in the back know that, who hypocritically try to justify their actions to cover terrorist crimes. Only Allah knows why they did it. Allah relieved the Turkish elite of their senses.”
Participants in Russia’s air campaign to support the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, both pilots aboard the SU-24 parachuted to the ground on the Syrian side of the border after Turkish F-16s downed it with a missile on November 24th.
According to Moscow, one of them was shot dead after landing; Russian and Syrian forces rescued the second; one Russian soldier was killed in that operation.
As more economic sanctions were brought to bear in Moscow, the president said: “If anyone thinks, after this war crime, murdering our people, that they’ll get off with measures hitting their tomato exports or curbs on construction and other sectors, they are mistaken. We will remind them repeatedly of what they did. And they will regret what they did more than once.”
As recently as the mid-November G-20 summit, Erdogan and Putin were on speaking terms.
Now, adding to its food import sanctions against Ankara, Moscow has suspended gas pipeline dealings, further driving the wedge between them.