President Barack Obama and Russian head of state Vladimir Putin met privately in Paris where both are attending a climate change summit.
The meeting lasted only 30 minutes, but the Associated Press reports President Obama pressed Putin “to decrease tensions with Turkey.”
“Obama expressed regret over the incident with the Russian plane which was downed by the Turkish air force in Syria,” explained Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman.
The Turkish military shot down a Russian warplane on Nov. 24, killing one pilot. Turkish officials claim they sent the jet ten warnings demanding it identify itself and leave Turkish airspace, but Russian officials said none were received. The Turkish military released audio of the warnings sent to the Russian plane the following day. Russian officials dismissed the recordings as fabrications.
Putin accused the U.S. of leaking the flight path of the jet to Turkey, presumably to allow them to shoot it down. “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,” he said according to The Independent. “Why did we give this information to the Americans if they did not pass it along to the rest of the coalition?”
Over the weekend, Putin enacted sanctions against Turkey due to “national security” concerns and to protect “the national interests of the Russian Federation.” The Kremlin published the sanctions on Putin’s website:
a) Ban on or limitation of foreign economic operations envisaging the import to the territory of the Russian Federation of certain goods originating from the Turkish Republic as listed by the Russian Federation Government (except for goods imported for personal use in amounts established by Eurasian Economic Union regulations);
b) Ban on or limitation of certain types of work (services) rendered on the territory of Russia by organisations under the jurisdiction of the Turkish Republic in line with a list established by the Russian Federation Government;
c) Ban for employers, contractors of work (services) not listed by the Russian Federation Government to employ as of January 1, 2016, citizens of the Turkish Republic who are not bound by employment and/or legal civil contracts with the said employers on December 31, 2015.
“The circumstances are unprecedented. The gauntlet thrown down to Russia is unprecedented. So naturally the reaction is in line with this threat,” said Peskov after Putin signed the decree.
President Obama and Putin also discussed the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, which is entering its third year. Both leaders agreed the Minsk agreements must be implemented. Putin met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President François Hollande, and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Minsk, Belarus, for a second time in February, where they all agreed to an immediate ceasefire. However, the agreement was immediately broken by the pro-Russians and Russian soldiers in east Ukraine.
President Obama allegedly told Putin “sanctions against Russia could be rolled back” if the Kremlin honors the Minsk agreement.