Putin: Turkey ‘Stabbed Us in the Back’ by Shooting Down Plane

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Russia Today/Screengrab

Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a press conference on the downing of a Russian warplane near the Turkish border, in which he seemed to dismiss earlier Russian theories that their plane could have been hit by ground artillery fire from Syrian rebels.

He said the Turks shot the plane down with an air-to-air missile, and accused them of sabotaging Russia’s efforts against ISIS and other terrorist groups in Syria.

Putin said Turkey “stabbed us in the back and hit our planes that are fighting terrorism.”

Putin begins speaking about six minutes into the video above, after Jordan’s King Abdullah II expresses condolences for Russians killed in the Metrojet bombing in Egypt, and pledges continued support for a global war against ISIS.

“This goes beyond the framework of the regular fight against terrorism,” Putin says of the Turks shooting down a Russian Su-24.  “Certainly our military men are fighting terrorism, sacrificing their own lives, but today’s loss is related to a stab in our back by the associates of terrorism. I cannot find another wording for what happened today.”

“Our plane was shot down over Syrian territory,” Putin claimed. “The air-to-air missile came from F-16s, Turkish warplanes. It fell on the territory of Syria, four kilometers away from the Turkish border. It was at an altitude of 6,000 meters, one kilometer away from the Turkish border, when it was hit.”

“In any case, our pilots and our plane never threatened the Republic of Turkey in any way,” Putin asserted. “This was an obvious fact. They conducted an operation to fight ISIS. It was in northern Latakia, the mountainous part, where militants from Russia are located. And in that case, Russian pilots took preventive strikes against terrorists that could have come back to Russia at any moment. These are people who should be considered as international terrorists.”

This was apparently a reference to the Turkmen camped in the area of the plane crash, who are said to have recovered the body of one Russian pilot and captured the other. Some late reports claim the second pilot is also dead.

Putin claimed Russia has evidence of “oil products” going to Turkey from territory captured by terrorists, who get a significant amount of their financing from the sale of such products.

“Together with their U.S. partners, we signed an agreement to prevent incidents in the air in Turkey,” said Putin. “They also announced that they allegedly are fighting terrorism as part of the U.S.-led coalition.” However, he accused Turkey of turning a blind eye to ISIS activities, or even assisting and protecting them, citing the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and counterterrorist raids across Europe as fallout from permitting ISIS to accumulate so much financial and military power.

“Certainly we will analyze what happened very seriously,” Putin said of the Russian plane being shot down. “Today’s tragic event will have serious consequences for Russian-Turkish relations.”

“We have always treated Turkey, not just as a close neighbor, but as a friendly state,” said Putin. “I don’t know in whose interests today’s incident is… but it’s not in our interest. And instead of immediately establishing the necessary contact with us, as far as I’m aware of, the Turkish side contacted its NATO allies instead, to discuss this incident… as if we downed a Turkish jet.”

“Do they want NATO to serve the interests of ISIS?” the Russian president asked.

He said he understood that Turkey has its own regional interests, but Russia would never allow a “crime like this” to happen without an appropriate response.

“Certainly we hope the international community will unite against a common evil,” Putin said. “In this regard, we rely on the participation of all the countries in the region in this fight.”  He concluded by speaking warmly of Jordan’s contributions, and pledging continued cooperation with Jordanian security services and military forces, as well as those of neighboring states.