A war of words between Turkey and Russia escalates, as Putin accuses the US of knowing the flight path of the downed Russian jet. Turkey’s president has warned Vladimir Putin not to “play with fire” as their war of words continues over the downing of a jet. President Recep Erdogan says he does not want to harm relations with Russia and hopes to meet Mr Putin “face to face” in Paris next week.
But the Russian President is refusing to contact Mr Erdogan directly because Ankara does not want to apologise, a Putin aide said.
In another development, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow would suspend the visa-free scheme with Turkey from the New Year. Mr Lavrov said Turkey had “crossed the line”.
Relations between the former Cold War antagonists have hit a low after Turkey shot down the jet near the Syrian border earlier this week. Russia Deploys S-400 Missile System In Syria
Mr Erdogan warned Mr Putin about “playing with fire” in a speech in northeast Turkey, broadcast live on television.
He responded after Mr Putin dismissed as “rubbish” Turkey’s claim that it would not have shot down the jet if it had known it was Russian. Mr Putin also said that America – an ally of Turkey on Syria – had known the flight path of the downed Russian jet. “The American side, which leads the coalition that Turkey belongs to, knew about the location and time of our planes’ flights, and we were hit exactly there and at that time,” Mr Putin said. “Russian planes were easily identifiable and Turkey was making excuses for its actions. “They [our planes] have identification signs and these are well visible,” Mr Putin said. “Instead of […] ensuring this never happens again, we are hearing unintelligible explanations and statements that there is nothing to apologise about.”
Mr Putin’s accusations came at a news conference on how to defeat IS, with French counterpart Francois Hollande at the Kremlin.
Mr Putin and Mr Hollande said their forces will share more intelligence and target strikes only on IS and other jihadi groups.
Russia has previously been accused of also striking at anti-Assad rebels in order to prop up the regime. “What we agreed, and this is important, is to strike only terrorists and Daesh (Islamic State) and to not strike forces that are fighting terrorism,” said the French President. “We will exchange information about whom to hit and whom not to hit,” Mr Hollande added.
Both countries have recently suffered devastating attacks by IS-supporting terrorists.