November 24, 2015 | Quote

Putin: Turkey’s Downing of a Russian Warplane ‘a Stab in the Back’ By ‘Accomplices of Terrorists’

Russian President Vladimir Putin harshly rebuked Turkey for its downing of a Russian warplane Tuesday morning.

“Today's loss is linked to a stab in the back delivered to us by accomplices of terrorists,” Putin said Tuesday from the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi before a meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah, according to Reuters. “I cannot qualify what happened today as anything else.”

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has defended Turkey's decision to down the plane, saying on Tuesday that it was Turkey's “national duty” to protect the country's security. He added that Turkey had the right “to take all kinds of measures” to protect its border, the Associated Press reported.

But the Russian leader asserted that the plane was attacked in Syrian airspace when it was roughly a mile from the Turkish border and had come down 2 1/2 miles inside Syria.

“Our pilots didn't threaten Turkey,” Putin said. “This is obvious.”

Turkey says the plane was in Turkish airspace and had been warned repeatedly before it was shot down by Turkish F-16 jets. Russia has also denied this, insisting that the plane was shot down by a Turkish surface-to-air missile.


Boris Zilberman, a Russia expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Business Insider that this bellicose rhetoric coming from Russia was to be expected and would most likely continue.

“Putin will need to save face and will offer a lot of stern language, but his options are limited if he doesn't want to start a war with NATO at this moment,” Zilberman said.

“I would be concerned that Russia could take a tit-for-tat approach and down a Turkish fighter jet at some at point in the future, but an incident in 2012 when Syria shot down a Turkish fighter jet shows that perhaps cooler heads will prevail, as that incident did not further escalate.”


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