Putin Rages As Turkey Shoots Down Russian Plane
NATO member Turkey shot down a Russian war plane on the Syrian border on Tuesday, an act President Vladimir Putin denounced as a “stab in the back” by “accomplices of terrorists” as tensions spiralled between two rival players in the Syria war.
Turkey called an extraordinary meeting of NATO while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he had scrapped a planned trip to Turkey on Wednesday aimed at narrowing differences on the Syria conflict.
The Turkish army said the plane was shot down by two of its F-16s after it violated Turkish airspace 10 times within a five-minute period, an assertion backed up by its NATO ally the United States.
Moscow insisted that the jet had stayed inside Syrian territory, and Damascus denounced the incident as “flagrant aggression against Syrian sovereignty”.
Their fate was uncertain, with reports one had been killed.
The incident was the first of its kind since Russia launched air strikes in Syria in September in support of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, causing concern in the West over a possible clash with US-led coalition planes also in the skies.
Putin branded the shooting down of the aircraft a “stab in the back committed by accomplices of terrorists”.
He said oil from jihadist-controlled territory was exported through Turkey while funding was sent the other way, and warned: “The tragic event will have serious consequences for Russian-Turkish relations.”
Putin said the plane fell in Syrian territory four kilometres (2.5 miles) from the border and “did not in any way threaten Turkey”.