“We have serious doubts about this being an unpremeditated act, it really looks like a planned provocation,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a press conference in Moscow after speaking with Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu.
“We do not plan to go to war with Turkey, our attitude toward the Turkish people has not changed,” Lavrov added, stressing that Moscow would however “seriously reevaluate” its ties with Ankara.
“Such attacks are absolutely unacceptable,” he said.
Russian authorities reacted furiously to the downing of the Russian Su-24 warplane on the Syrian border on Tuesday, with President Vladimir Putin calling it a “stab in the back committed by accomplices of terrorists”.
Meanwhile Turkey’s military said the fighter was shot down by two of its F-16s after it violated Turkish airspace 10 times within a five-minute period.
The Turkish Ambassador to the United Nations Halit Cevik said in a letter to the Security Council that two Russian planes had flown a little more than a mile into Turkish airspace for 17 seconds.
Ankara and Moscow are already on rival sides in the Syrian civil war that has lasted over four years, with Turkey wanting to see the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad while Russia remains one of his last remaining allies.
Lavrov on Tuesday cancelled talks planned with his Turkish counterpart in Istanbul on Wednesday which had been scheduled prior to the plane’s downing.
Both Putin and Lavrov have warned Russian citizens against travelling to Turkey in the aftermath of the incident, citing terrorist threats in the country.
Russia’s top diplomat said Wednesday the country was not planning on hosting any Turkish officials nor contemplating making any official visits to Turkey.
Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also said his country does not wish to escalate tensions with Russia over the downing of the plane.
Speaking at an Organization of Islamic Cooperation economy meeting in Istanbul, Erdogan said on Wednesday that Turkey favors “peace, dialogue and diplomacy.”
Erdogan however defended his country’s move to shoot down the plane saying “no one should expect Turkey to stay silent to border violations or the violation of its rights.”
Turkey changed its rules of engagement a few years ago after Syria shot down a Turkish plane. According to the new rules, Turkey said it would consider all “elements” approaching from Syria an enemy threat and would act accordingly.
Russia backs Hollande’s call to close Syria-Turkey border
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday backed a proposal by French leader Francois Hollande to close off the Syria-Turkey border to prevent the flow of fighters crossing the frontier.
“I think this is a good proposal and that tomorrow President Hollande will talk to us in greater detail about it. We would be ready to seriously consider the necessary measures for this,” Lavrov told journalists ahead of Hollande’s visit to Moscow Thursday.
Second pilot of downed warplane rescued
Russian and Syrian special forces have freed the second pilot of a Russian warplane shot down by Turkey and he is now at a Russian air base in Syria, the Russian defence minister said on Wednesday.
“The operation ended successfully. The second pilot has been brought to our base. He is alive and well,” Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said.
President Vladimir Putin later confirmed the second pilot was rescued and “he and the other participants including in the rescue operation will be awarded state honours.“
“The plane’s other pilot who died as he was fired at from the ground will posthumously be given Russia’s highest award for valour, the Hero of Russia medal,” Putin said.
Putin was speaking in televised comments on Wednesday after Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told Russian news agencies that the man was rescued in a 12-hour operation which ended in the early hours on Wednesday and is now “safe and sound” at Russia’s air base in the government-controlled area in Syria.
Shoigu also said that Russia is sending its most hi-tech air defence system to its air base in Syria to help bolster its firepower over the war-torn country after the downing of its jet.
“The S-400 anti-aircraft missile system will be deployed to the Hmeimim airbase,” Shoigu was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.
Putin on Wednesday backed a recommendation from the foreign ministry for Russians not to visit Turkey.
“After such tragic events like the destruction of our plane and the death of our pilot, this is a necessary measure,” Putin said in televised comments.
Turkey on Tuesday shot down a Russian warplane, claiming it had violated Turkish airspace and ignored repeated warnings. Russia denied that the plane crossed the Syrian border into Turkish skies.
President Putin had said the downed plane had been attacked inside Syria when it was one kilometre from the Turkish border and had come down four kilometres inside Syria.
“Today’s loss is a stab in the back delivered to us by accomplices of terrorists. I cannot qualify what happened today as anything else,” said Putin.
Turkey’s Nato allies have called for a rapid de-escalation in tensions between Ankara and Moscow while China has also called for more coordination in the fight against terrorism
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The 68th Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China.
— The Daily Mail - People's Daily