Putin calls downing of Russian jet a ′stab in the back′ | News | DW | 24.11.2015
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Putin calls downing of Russian jet a 'stab in the back'

The shooting down of Russian fighter plane will have "serious consequences" for ties between Ankara and Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov canceled a trip to Turkey.

A Turkish F-16 jet shot the Russian Su-24 while it was over Syrian airspace, 1 kilometer (0,6 miles) away from the Turkish border, President Putin said on Tuesday. This directly contradicted Turkey's account, which claimed the plane had strayed into Turkish airspace and was warned repeatedly.

"Our pilots and our plane did not in any way threaten Turkey, that's an obvious thing," he added.

The head of the Kremlin described the international incident as a "stab in the back," committed by "accomplices of terrorism," adding that Russian soldiers were involved in a "heroic fight" against the terrorists.

"We established a long time ago that large quantities of oil and oil products from territory captured by Islamic State have been arriving on Turkish territory," he added, saying that was how militants had been funding themselves.

Putin also pointed out that NATO-member Turkey shot down the plane despite the deal to avoid such incidents, which Moscow signed with the US-led anti-terror coalition.

"We always treated Turkey not only as a close neighbor but a friendly state," the Russian president said while meeting the Jordan's King Abdullah II in Sochi. "I don't know who needed what was done today. Not us at least."

Lavrov cancels Istanbul visit

Analysis by the Russian military "unambiguously shows that there was no violation of the Turkish airspace," the Moscow defense ministry said in a Tuesday statement.

The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also said that he would not make his scheduled diplomatic trip to Turkey on Thursday.

Watch video 00:58

Russian warplane crashes after being shot down by Turkish jets

"The decision has been taken to cancel the meeting that was planned for tomorrow in Istanbul between the foreign ministers of Russia and Turkey," Lavrov said in televised comments.

The defense ministry in Moscow summoned the Turkish military attaché over the confontation, while Ankara summoned the Russian charge d'affaires to the foreign ministry.

Terror threat in Turkey

Foreign Minister Lavrov also advised Russian citizens to avoid traveling to Turkey, citing security concerns.

"The critical mass of terrorist incidents on Turkish soil, according to our estimates, is no less of a threat than in Egypt. For this reason of course we do not recommend that our citizens travel to Turkey for tourism or any other reason," Lavrov said.

At the same time, he said that the terror threat was not connected to the downing of the jet.

Turkey is a popular tourist destination for Russian nationals.

Russia to continue bombing

A senior Russian deputy from the opposition Communist party, Ivan Melnikov, expressed suspicions that Turkey was cooperating with "American secret services" in its decision to shoot down the plane.

The move was designed to be "a mighty blow to Russian-Turkish relations" and "switch focus from Russian successes in combating the Islamic State," according to Melnikov. Critics of the Russian strikes, supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces, allege that the majority of attacks target moderate Syrian opposition, not groups like the self-styled "Islamic State."

Russia would continue airstrikes in Syria despite the Turkish downing of the fighter jet, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

dj/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters, Interfax)

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