Putin Says Turkish 'Stab in Back' Caused Russian Warplane Crash

Putin: Won't Tolerate Crimes Such As Warplane Crash
  • Jet hit in Syria, posed no threat to Turkey, president says
  • Islamic State earns money selling oil to Turkey, Putin says

President Vladimir Putin accused Turkey of being an accomplice of terrorism for shooting down a Russian warplane in Syria and warned of “very serious consequences” for their relations.

QuickTake Syria's Civil War

“We understand that everyone has their own interests but we won’t allow such crimes to take place,” Putin said at talks Tuesday with Jordanian King Abdullah II in Sochi. “We received a stab in the back from accomplices of terrorism.”

An aircraft goes down near Turkey’s border
An aircraft goes down near Turkey’s border
Photographer: Fatih Akta/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Russia’s warplane was one kilometer (0.6 miles) from the border with Turkey when it was “shot down over Syrian territory” by Turkish F-16 jets firing air-to-air missiles, Putin said. It’s “obvious” that the Russian “pilots and our aircraft in no way threatened the Republic of Turkey” as they carried out an operation against Islamic State, he said.

Putin spoke after Turkey said its military shot down a Russian warplane that violated its airspace near the border with northwestern Syria, roiling global markets and marking the first direct clash between foreign powers embroiled in the civil war. Russia’s Defense Ministry denied the plane had crossed the border. Russia began its bombing campaign in Syria Sept. 30 against Islamic State and other groups battling President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Reported flight path of Russian jet
Reported flight path of Russian jet
Source: Office of Turkish Prime Minister

Turkey’s action is the first time in decades that a North Atlantic Treaty Organization member has downed a Russian military aircraft. Ambassadors of the 28 NATO member states are meeting at 5 p.m. Tuesday in Brussels at Turkey’s request to discuss the incident, the military alliance said in a statement.

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Russia always viewed Turkey as a friendly state, though “instead of immediately making the necessary contact with us, the Turkish side turned to their partners in NATO for talks on this incident,” Putin said. “It’s as if we shot down the Turkish plane and not they ours. Do they want to put NATO at the service of Islamic State?”

Vladimir Putin in Sochi
Vladimir Putin in Sochi
Photographer: Maxim Shipenkov/AFP via Getty Images

The downed jet had been conducting “preventative strikes against terrorists,” including those from Russia who “could at any time return” to the country, Putin said.

Putin also accused Turkey of helping to fund Islamic State. Russia has long established that large quantities of oil are entering Turkey from Islamic State-controlled areas, providing a huge flow of money to terrorists, he said.

“And now we’re being stabbed in the back, our planes that are fighting terrorists are being hit,” he said. This has happened even though an agreement is in place with the U.S.-led coalition, which includes Turkey, to prevent incidences during air operations in Syria, Putin said.

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