MOSCOW: President Vladimir Putin said Turkey’s shooting down of a Russian military jet was a war crime and that the Kremlin would punish Ankara with additional sanctions, signaling fallout from the incident would be long-lasting and serious.
Minutes after Putin had finished speaking, his energy minister, Alexander Novak, said Russia was halting talks with Ankara on the Turkish Stream gas pipeline, a symbolic move designed to emphasize the strength of Kremlin anger.
Putin, who made the comments during his annual state of the nation speech to his country’s political elite on Thursday, said Russia would not forget the Nov. 24 incident and that he continued to regard it as a terrible betrayal.
“We are not planning to engage in military saber-rattling (with Turkey),” said Putin, after asking for a moment’s silence for the two Russian servicemen killed in the immediate aftermath of the incident, and for Russian victims of terrorism.
“But if anyone thinks that having committed this awful war crime, the murder of our people, that they are going to get away with some measures concerning their tomatoes or some limits on construction and other sectors, they are sorely mistaken.”
Turkey would have cause to regret its actions “more than once,” he said, promising Russia’s retaliatory actions would be neither hysterical nor dangerous.
The rhetoric Putin used will dash hopes of any early rapprochement and deepen a rift between the two countries.
“It appears that Allah decided to punish the ruling clique of Turkey by depriving them of wisdom and judgment,” he said.
Repeating a call for a new broad international coalition against terrorism, Putin, in an overt reference to Turkey, called on countries to avoid “double standards, contacts with any terrorist organizations, and any attempts to use them for their own ends.”
Turkey has strongly rejected Russian allegations it has any links with Islamic State militants. On Wednesday Russia made it personal, saying Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s family was directly profiting from Islamic State oil smuggling.
Russia has already banned some Turkish food imports, including selected fruit and vegetables, as part of a wider retaliatory sanctions package.
Nine days after the incident, Moscow and Ankara still have starkly different versions of what happened and Putin is furious Erdogan has not apologized for the episode, something the Turkish leader has said he will not do.
Turkey insists the SU-24 fighter bomber violated its air space and was warned repeatedly before being shot down. Russia says the plane, which was taking part in the Kremlin’s air campaign against militants in Syria, had not strayed from Syrian air space.
Erdogan sought a meeting with Putin on the sidelines of a climate change conference in Paris last week, but was snubbed. Nor has the Russian leader taken his phone calls.