Putin insists Turkey knew downed jet was Russian

Russian President Putin demands apology from Turkey over downed Russian jet while Turkish President Erdogan refuses and reiterates that plane was unidentified

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (2nd L) and his French counterpart Francois Hollande (L) attend a news conference after a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, November 26, 2015.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday insisted that Turkey knew the jet downed on Tuesday for violating Turkish airspace belonged to Russia, despite Turkish President Erdogan stating otherwise.

Putin’s latest comments on the incident came during a joint press conference in Moscow with French President Francois Hollande who visited Russia to meet with Putin.

The Russian president once again called on Turkey to apologise for downing the jet.

However, Erdogan refused to apologise and said Turkey does not need be sorry for downing a plane that was violating its airspace despite all warnings.

Speaking to France 24 on Thursday, Erdogan said the Turkish airforce had not identified the jet as belonging to the Russian Federation.

"The plane ignored repeated warnings for over five minutes to leave Turkish airspace and had failed to identify itself," said Erdogan.

"Had we known it was a Russian plane we may have acted differently," he said.


"But our pilots know the rules of engagement and have to do their duty to protect Turkish airspace."

Putin insists that Turkey downed the Russian Su-24 supersonic, all-weather bomber aircraft inside Syrian territory, but Turkey later released a radar map that showed that the jet violated Turkish airspace.

Calls for de-escalation

After the incident, the US, European Union and the NATO called on Turkey and Russia to de-escalate tensions.

Turkey took steps to de-escalate the situation, with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu calling his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov over the phone. They set a meeting for 3-4 December in the Serbian city of Belgrade, after the cancellation of the Ankara meeting that would have taken place on Wednesday.

Both sides are calling for the de-escalation of tensions, with Lavrov saying, "We have no intention of fighting a war with Turkey."

President Erdogan said on Thursday that he called Putin to talk about the situation but “Putin has not returned” his call.

Moreover, the Russian military suspended all communication channels with the Turkish military, including a "hot line" to help avoid air accidents.

Russia's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev also announced that his country is planning to implement economic sanctions against Turkey, which is Russia's second largest trading partner.

Focusing on a common enemy

In the joint press conference, Hollande repeated his call for Moscow and Ankara to de-escalate tensions and focus on fighting against the DAESH terror group, which has claimed responsibility for the Paris terror attacks on November 13 which killed 130 people.

"What we agreed, and this is important, is to strike only terrorists and DAESH and to not strike forces that are fighting terrorism. We will exchange information about whom to hit and whom not to hit," Hollande said.

Putin said Russia is ready to fight against the “mutual enemy," signaling that they will continue to support the Assad regime.

"I believe that the fate of the president of Syria must stay in the hands of the Syrian people," Putin said, in stark contrast to Hollande, who insisted Assad could play no future political role in the country.

He also stressed that France and Russia will cooperate with the US-led coalition forces "But of course incidents like the destruction of our aircraft and the deaths of our servicemen... are absolutely unacceptable," Putin said.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu wrote a column to the UK based daily newspaper The Times, saying Turkey will defend its territory and will work with Russia and its allies to calm tensions.

"The downing of an unidentified jet in Turkish airspace was not - and is not - an act against a specific country. Turkey took action, based on standing rules of engagement, to protect the integrity of its sovereign territory,” said the Turkish prime minister.

“The necessary discussions are now taking place. While the measures to defend our territory will remain in place, Turkey will work with Russia and our allies to calm tensions," he said.

"The international community must not turn on itself. Otherwise, the only victors will be DAESH and the Syrian regime. This symbiotic relationship keeps both alive," he said.

"In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, like those in Ankara and others before it, the focus should be to tackle, head-on, the international threat that DAESH poses, securing the future of Syria and seeking a solution to the current refugee crisis. Failure to do so will enable DAESH to expand its hateful ideology. Like the terrorist scourge, the global response must transcend parochial interests."

The Turkish prime minister also said the international community had failed to focus on the fight against DAESH.

"Instead, non-DAESH positions have been bombed, as well as groups fighting the Assad regime. I will go so far as to call out Russia on this point, as President Obama and David Cameron have done," Davutoglu said.

TRTWorld and agencies