Russian President Vladimir Putin said the downing of the Russian aircraft over Syria is a stab in the back delivered by the forces backing terrorism.
“This incident stands out against the usual fight against terrorism,” said Putin during a meeting with King of Jordan Abdullah II in the Russian city of Sochi.
“Our troops are fighting heroically against terrorists, risking their lives. But the loss we suffered today came from a stab in the back delivered by accomplices of the terrorists,” he added.
Putin said the plane was hit by an air-to-air missile launched by a Turkish jet and crashed in the Syrian territory four kilometers from the border with Turkey, stressing that the Russian plane was flying at an altitude of 6000 meters about a kilometer from the Turkish border.
He stressed that the plane and pilots posed no threat to Turkey as they were carrying out a mission against ISIS in mountainous areas targeting terrorists, most of whom came from Russia.
“ISIS has big money, hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars, from selling oil. In addition they are protected by the military of an entire nation. One can understand why they are acting so boldly and blatantly. Why they kill people in such atrocious ways. Why they commit terrorist acts across the world, including in the heart of Europe,” the Russian President said.
The downing of the Russian warplane happened despite Russia signing an agreement with the US to prevent such incidents in Syria, Putin stressed. Turkey claims to be part of the US-led coalition fighting against ISIS in Syria, he added.
The incident will have grave consequences for Russia’s relations with Turkey, Putin warned.
“We have always treated Turkey as not only a close neighbor, but also as a friendly nation,” he said. “I don’t know who has an interest in what happened today, but we certainly don’t.”
Putin said Russia respects the regional interests of other nations, but warned the atrocity committed by Turkey would not go without an answer.
Before Putin’s statements came out, his spokesman Dmitry Peskov had said Turkish army’s downing of the Russian plane over Syria is “a very serious incident.”
Peskov told reporters in a statement that Russia has confirmed information showing that the aircraft was all the time flying within the borders of Syria, adding that this was registered by electronic monitoring means
Asked about any possible consequences the incident might have on the Russian-Turkish relations, Peskov said it was too early to draw conclusions until the whole situation is clear.
Meanwhile, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that it has summoned the Turkish military attaché in Moscow over the incident.
Earlier, the Ministry said a Russian Su-24 fighter jet had been shot down in Lattakia province.
The Ministry confirmed that the plane hadn’t violated Turkish airspace and was flying at an altitude of 6,000 meters.
The pilots managed to eject from the downed jet, the ministry said, adding that their fate is still unknown.