I can’t say that I blame Putin, go for it. Russian President Vladimir Putin has castigated Turkey’s leaders, warning that they will regret shooting down a Russian Su-24 bomber in Syria. In a state of the nation speech, broadcast live on Russian television, he said that “if anyone thinks Russia’s reaction will be limited to trade sanctions, they are deeply mistaken”.
Russia’s fight against “terrorists” came top in his speech to parliament. At the start he praised the widows of the two Russian servicemen killed in the Su-24 incident in Syria. The widows were sitting in the Kremlin audience for his speech.
There was also a minute of silence for the Russian victims of terrorism. Putin again accused the Turkish government of sheltering and covertly supporting IS militants. Turkey insists that its F-16 fighters shot down the Su-24 because the bomber had trespassed into its airspace. Mr Putin scorned them, saying “probably Allah alone knows why they did it.
He said he was making a clear distinction between the Turkish leadership and Russia’s “many longstanding and reliable friends in Turkey”.
Russia has announced wide-ranging sanctions against Turkey – a Nato member – because of the 24 November border clash, including an import ban on Turkish fruit, vegetables and some other foods. Russians can no longer go on package holidays to Turkey – until this month the top foreign destination for Russian tourists.
Putin made a direct connection between Russia’s annexation of Crimea last year and the current fight against terrorism, saying Russia was showing its “confidence” as a “strong, independent state, with a 1,000-year-old history”. He used the word “reunited” for Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula, which was condemned internationally. Hours earlier he launched a Crimea-Russia undersea electricity link, responding to a power blackout that hit Crimea 10 days ago.
But Turkey still denies buying oil from ISIS. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is to meet his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Serbia on Thursday, on the sidelines of an Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) meeting. Russia says its bombers are attacking IS and other jihadist groups in Syria, helping the government forces of President Bashar al-Assad.
On Wednesday Russia’s defence ministry displayed satellite images it said showed columns of trucks loaded with oil crossing from IS territory in Iraq and Syria into Turkey. Comparing Russia’s campaign with the World War Two struggle against Nazism, Mr Putin said “we are facing a destructive, barbaric ideology… we need a single powerful fist, a united front” against IS.