Putin Ready to Move On After Turks Shoot Down Jet

The Russian leader says he is ready to cooperate, but the Turks better not shoot down another plane.

Presidents François Hollande of France and Vladimir Putin of Russia shake hands after delivering a news conference in Moscow, November 26
Presidents François Hollande of France and Vladimir Putin of Russia shake hands after delivering a news conference in Moscow, November 26 (Presidential Press and Information Office)

Russian president Vladimir Putin suggested on Thursday there would be no more serious repercussions for Turkey’s shooting down of a Russian jet near the border with Syria when he said, “We proceed from the position that there will be no repeat of this, otherwise we’ll have no need of cooperation with anybody, any coalition, any country.”

Putin spoke at a news conference alongside his French counterpart, François Hollande, who had come to Moscow to propose coordinated military action against the self-declared Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Earlier this month, the group claimed responsibility for terrorist attacks in Paris that left more than 130 dead.

Putin said the two leaders had agreed “how we will cooperate in the near future, on a bilateral basis and with, as a whole, the coalition led by the United States.”

Crowded skies

American and French jets regularly carry out airstrikes against Islamic State militants in the east of Syria.

Russia started bombing in the country in September, but mostly in support of Bashar al-Assad, its ally, in the western part of Syria.

When a Russian Su-24 veered into Turkish airspace on Tuesday, it was shot down by F-16s.

Turkey says it repeatedly warned the Russians. Putin pointed out that the plane was already over Syrian territory again when it was shot down and called the attack a “stab in the back by the accomplices of terrorism.”

Both Russian pilots parachuted out before the plane crashed, but only one survived.

Sanctions

Putin’s prime minister, Dmitri Medvedev, has ordered the Russian government to propose retaliatory sanctions, including restrictions on food imports from Turkey. A proposed gas pipeline between the two nations, dubbed Turkish Stream, could also fall victim to the deteriorating relations.

But experts have said neither Russia nor Turkey is likely to ratchet up tensions much further.

Daniel Drezner, a professor in international politics at Tufts University, argued in The Washington Post this week that “Russia and Turkey are sufficiently interdependent that a serious heightening of tensions would severely impair both countries.”

Turkey would find it very difficult to suddenly stop using Russian natural gas. Russia would find it very difficult to not use the Dardanelles.

Mark Galeotti, a New York University professor and Russia analyst at the crowdsourced consultancy Wikistrat, predicted an uptick in Russian mischief: “perhaps some support for the Kurds or other violent extreme movements, for example, as well as a more assiduous campaign to push back and stymie Turkish regional ambitions.”

But he didn’t see the situation spiraling out of control either. “I suspect neither Moscow nor, at the very least, the other European NATO powers will want to let this go too far,” he said.

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