Turkey downed Russian fighter jet to protect ISIS oil sales: Putin
Turkish air force shot down a Russian fighter jet killing the pilot over the skies of Syria in order to protect ISIS oil sales to Turkey, Russian President Vladimir Putin told journalists following a meeting with King Abdullah II of Jordan who is visiting Russia.
“We have long been recording the movement of a large amount of oil and petroleum products to Turkey from ISIS-occupied territories,” Putin said. “This explains the significant funding the terrorists are receiving. Now they are stabbing us in the back by hitting our planes that are fighting terrorism.”
The Russian president claimed that the Su-24 fighter was shot down over Syrian territory by an air-to-air missile launched from a Turkish F-16 plane and fell on Syrian territory, four kilometres from the Turkish border.
When it was attacked in the air, it was flying at an altitude of 6,000 metres, one kilometre away from the Turkish territory, Putin explained.
“In any case, our plane and our pilots were in no way a threat to the Turkish Republic in any way,” Putin said. “This is obvious.”
The Russian military had also earlier denied that the warplane crossed into Turkey’s airspace.
“The Russian aircraft did not cross the Turkish border and acted only against objects on the territory of Syria,” the Russia’s Ministry of Defence claimed in a press release. “Combat actions of the Russian aviation were conducted against illegal terrorist formations, which consist of a large number of militants from the Russian North Caucasus.”
“Efforts of the Russian Defence Ministry specialists to organize cooperation with the Turkish party by emergency communication link were not successful,” the statement read. “The Defence Ministry considers actions of the Turkish Air Force as an unfriendly act.”
“If ISIS is making so much money – we are talking about tens or maybe even hundreds of millions, possibly billions of dollars – in oil trade and they are supported by the armed forces of an entire state, it is clear why they are being so daring and impudent, why they are killing people in such gruesome ways, why they are committing terrorist attacks all over the world, including in the heart of Europe,” Putin added. “We will of course carefully analyse what has happened and today’s tragic event will have significant consequences for Russian-Turkish relations.”
Putin claimed that Russia has always treated Turkey not merely as a close neighbour, but as a friendly state.
“I do not know who benefits from what has happened today,” Putin said. “We certainly do not.”
The Russian president also rebuked Turkey for calling an emergency NATO meeting to discuss the incident.
“Instead of immediately establishing contacts with us, as far as we know Turkey turned to its NATO partners to discuss this incident,” Putin said. “As if we had hit their plane and not the other way around.”
“Do they wish to make NATO serve ISIS?” Putin asked.
NATO announced that the organization agreed with Turkey’s claim that the plane was shot down over Turkish airspace and pledged to stand in solidarity with Ankara.
“The Allied assessments we have got from several Allies during the day are consistent with information we have been provided with from Turkey,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporter at press conference. “So the information we have from other Allies is consistent with what we have got from Turkey.”
Military authorities in Moscow disagree with NATO’s assessment, and showed an animation of the flight paths of the Turkish and Russian aircraft alleging that the former made an incursion into Syrian airspace to down the latter.
While acknowledging every state has its regional interests, and that Russia always respect those, the Russian President hinted at possible retaliation.
“We will never turn a blind eye to such crimes as the one that was committed today,” Putin warned.
The Russian President called on the international community to make an effort to join forces in the fight against the “common evil”.
Meanwhile, the Russian Defence Ministry has sent a Moskva cruiser equipped with air defence system to the shore zone of Latakiam Syria and warned that all the potentially dangerous targets will be destroyed.
Russia has also terminated all contacts with Turkey at the military level.