MOSCOW (TIP): Russian President Vladimir Putin fired off an angry tirade against Turkey on Dec 17, ruling out any reconciliation with its leaders and accusing Ankara of shooting down a Russian warplane to impress the United States.
In comments littered with crude language, Putin dismissed the possibility that the downing of the warplane over the Turkey-Syria border last month was an accident, calling it a “hostile act”. “We find it difficult if not impossible to come to an agreement with the current leadership of Turkey,” the Kremlin strongman said at his annual news conference. “On the state level, I don’t see any prospects of improving relations with the Turkish leadership,” he said of Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Ties between Russia and the NATO member have hit rock bottom since the November 24 incident, which led to deaths of two Russian military officers.
Turkey has said the Russian jet strayed into its airspace and ignored repeated warnings, but Moscow insists it never left Syrian territory. Putin said he did not rule out that Ankara was acting with tacit approval from Washington, possibly so that the United States would look the other way to let Turkey “go onto Iraqi territory and occupy part of it”.
“I don’t know if there was such a trade-off, maybe there was,” Putin said.
“If somebody in the Turkish leadership decided to lick the Americans in one place… I don’t know, if they did the right thing,” he added. “Did they think we would run away now? Russia is not that kind of country,” Putin said, speaking of Moscow’s increased military presence in Syria.
“If Turkey flew there all the time before, breaching Syrian airspace, well, let’s see how they fly now.”
Turkey has voiced concern about Russian air raids in northern Syria because of the Turkmen minority in the area, a Turkic-speaking people who have had an uneasy relationship with the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.