Moscow (AFP) – President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Russia had given prior information to the United States of the flight path of the plane downed by Turkey on the Syrian border.
“The American side, which leads the coalition that Turkey belongs to, knew about the location and time of our planes’ flights, and we were hit exactly there and at that time,” Putin said at a joint press conference with French counterpart Francois Hollande in the Kremlin.
Ahead of the Hollande talks, Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan traded barbs, with the Russian leader saying he was waiting for an apology and Erdogan ruling out any such move.
Putin on Thursday dismissed as “rubbish” Turkey’s claim that it would not have shot down the jet if it had known it was Russian.
“Our planes have identification signs and these are well visible,” Putin said. “Instead of ensuring this never happens again, we are hearing unintelligible explanations and statements that there is nothing to apologise about.”
Putin has also accused Turkey of buying oil from the Islamic State jihadist group, whose financing heavily relies on the sale of energy resources.
Putin said there was “no doubt” that oil from “terrorist-controlled” territory in Syria was making its way across the border into Turkey.
“We see from the sky where these vehicles [carrying oil] are going,” Putin said. “They are going to Turkey day and night.”
“These barrels are not only carrying oil but also the blood of our citizens because with this money terrorists buy weapons and ammunition and then organise bloody attacks,” he added.
Russia says ‘destroyed’ Syria rebels in area where jet brought down
Russia also on Thursday said its forces had wiped out Syrian rebel groups operating in the area where one of its jets was brought down, unleashing a huge bombardment after rescuing a pilot.
“As soon as our pilot was safe, Russian bombers and artillery of the Syrian government forces carried out massive strikes in the indicated area for an extended period,” military official Igor Konashenkov told Russian news agencies.
“The terrorists operating in that area and other mysterious groups were destroyed,” he said.
Konashenkov added that the Russian strikes helped Syrian ground forces take control of the mountainous area in the north of the Latakia province.