Putin calls plane’s downing by Turkey ‘stab in the back’
Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday said the Russian Su-24 warplane, which was attacked one km away from the Syrian border with Turkey and crashed four km away, had not violated Turkey’s airspace.
“When attacked in the air, the plane was flying at an altitude of 6,000 metres, one kilometre away from the Turkish territory,” Putin said as he met King Abdullah II of Jordan in Russia’s Sochi, Xinhua reported.
He said the plane was shot down by an air-to-air missile launched by a Turkish F-16 jet in Syrian airspace and the Su-24 fell in Syria four km away from the Turkish border.
“The Russian pilots and the warplane have in no way threatened Turkey. This is obvious,” Putin said, describing the incident as “a stab in the back”.
“This event goes beyond the boundaries of fighting terrorism. It is a stab in the back from accomplices of terrorists,” Putin said, according to a live broadcast by Russian 24 TV channel.
Putin said the incident would have serious consequences on Moscow-Ankara relations as “Russia would not tolerate crimes like what happened today”.
“We have always regarded Turkey not only as a close neighbour, but also a friendly state. I don’t know who needed today’s incident to happen, but Russia didn’t need it in any case,” said Putin.
The president promised to carefully analyze everything that has happened, criticising Ankara for contacting NATO instead of establishing necessary communication with Russia immediately.
“As if it were us shooting down a Turkish plane and not vice versa,” said Putin.
Noting that Moscow recorded oil supplies to Turkey from Syrian areas captured by terrorists, Putin reiterated the urgent need of a united international community against the “common evil” of terrorism.
“We hope very much for all countries in the region to actively participate in the joint anti-terrorist fight,” Putin said when praising the “constant contact” with Jordan on anti-terrorist issues.
Earlier in the day, a Russian Su-24 crashed in Syria “allegedly because of gunfire from the ground”, the Russian defence ministry said.
According to the Turkish military, the Su-24 had been warned 10 times in five minutes about its violation of the Turkish airspace before two Turkish F-16 jets “interfered”.
The latest statement released by the Russian defence ministry said the Su-24 was shot down by a Turkish F-16 jet while returning to Syria’s Hmeimim airbase, where a Russian air force group for anti-terrorist strikes is located.
Insisting that analysis of readout data showed clearly no violation of the Turkish airspace, the ministry has already summoned the Turkish military attache in Russia.