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Putin: Russia will not tolerate such crimes as attack against its Sukhoi-24 plane

Russia will not tolerate crimes like the attack on the Russian Su-24 fighter jet shot down by the Turkish Air Force in Syrian skies, President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday at a meeting with King of Jordan Abdullah II.

"I understand each country has its own regional interests, and we have always respected that. But we shall never tolerate crimes like today's one," the president said.

The Russian leader stressed that the downed fighter-bomber was posing no threat to Turkey.

"Our pilots and jet posed no threat to the Turkish Republic. This is obvious. They were conducting an operation against ISIL," Putin said.

He stressed the plane was flying above northern Lattakia where militants coming from Russia are concentrated.

"The Russian bomber was shot down over Syria by an air-to-air surface fired from a Turkish F-16 plane when the bomber was at an altitude of 6,000 meters at a distance of 1 km from the Turkish bomber." Putin said.

"They [the pilots] were fulfilling their task," the president stressed adding that they were delivering preventive air strikes on terrorists who can come back to Russia at any moment.

Putin called the attack a crime and stressed that Russia would not tolerate it. According to the president, the Su-24 plane crash in Syria goes beyond normal struggle against terrorism, and it is "a stab in Russia's back delivered by terrorist accomplices."

"Today's loss is linked with a stab in our back delivered by terrorism accomplices. I can't characterize otherwise what has happened today," the Russian leader said.

According to the president, Russia has long been aware of oil supplies to Turkey from Syria's territories seized by terrorists, which provided tangible financial support for the extremists.

"We've long exposed heavy trafficking of oil and petroleum products from Islamic State-seized territories," Putin said, adding that monetary support for the militant groups was large, indeed.

"Now we've suffered stabs in the back: attacks against our planes that fight with terrorism," Putin said. He pointed out that Turkey attacked Russia's Sukhoi-24 although "we have signed agreements with the American partners on the prevention of incidents in the air, and Turkey, as is known, is among the countries that have declared they are ostensibly fighting against terrorism within the US-led coalition.".

Putin noted that Turkey's contacts with NATO member states after the attack against the Russian aircraft look like an attempt to make the alliance serve terrorists.

The Russian leader said that instead of immediately establishing contacts with Russia after the bomber incident, "the Turkish side applied to its NATO partners to discuss this issue, as far as we know."

"It seems as if we have shot down a Turkish plane and not vice versa," the Russian president said.

"So, does this mean that they want NATO to serve the Islamic State?" Putin noted.

The president said the attack on the Russian jet will have tragic consequences to Russia-Turkey ties.

"We will certainly carefully analyse what has happened and today's tragic event will have serious consequences to Russian-Turkish relations," he said. According to Putin, Russia has always treated Turkey not simply as a close neighbour, but as a friendly state.

"I have no idea who needed what has happened today, but in any case it's not us," the Russian president said.

He expressed hope "the international community will find the forces to unite in the face of this common evil (terrorism)."

Turkey's military attache in Russia has been summoned to the Russian Defense Ministry.

[Source: Itar Tass, Sochi, 24Nov15]

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