President Vladimir Putin of Russia ruled out any reconciliation with Turkey’s leaders and accusing Ankara of shooting down a Russian warplane just to impress the United States.
Putin dismissed the possibility that the downing of the warplane on the Turkey-Syria border last month was an accident, calling it a “hostile act”.
“We find it difficult if not impossible to come to an agreement with the current leadership of Turkey,” Putin angrily announced at a news conference.
“On the state level, I don’t see any prospects of improving relations with the Turkish leadership,” he fumed referring to Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The shooting down of the Russian warplane led to the death of two Russian military officers and ties between the two countries have hit rock bottom since.
Turkey is a NATO member and claims the Russian fighter jet strayed into what it claims was Turkish airspace after repeated warnings had been issued.
But Moscow vehemently denies this and says that the aircraft Turkey never left Syrian territory.
President Putin ruled that Ankara had acted with the “tacit approval of Washington” to encourage Turkey “go onto Iraqi territory and occupy part of it”.
“I don’t know if there was such a trade-off, maybe there was,” he said, but if they thought this would deter Russia’s increased military presence in Syria, they were mistaken.
“If Turkey flew there all the time before, breaching Syrian airspace, well, let’s see how they fly now”, he warned.
Turkey has expressed Russian air raids into northern Syria because of the Turkmen minority in the area, said to be opposed to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, but Putin said, “I’ve never heard anything about these so-called Turkmen”.
“I know that there are our Turkmen, living in Turkmenistan,” he added, referring to the former Soviet Central Asian country and accused Turkey of overseeing a “creeping Islamization” in the country “,which would probably cause the Ataturk ( the founding father of modern Turkey) to turn in his grave.”
The two Presidents have been locked in a war of words since the downing of the plane with Moscow accusing Erdogan’s family of engaging in oil smuggling operations with Islamic State jihadists.
Putin said that the Islamic State group was a “secondary issue” in Syria as it was created as “cannon fodder under Islamist slogans” to protect the economic interests of other players.”
The Turks “committed an enemy act against our aviation, but to say that we view Turkey as enemy state…is not the case, Putin said in a more conciliatory tone.