During remarks made at his annual speech before government leaders in Moscow on the state of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin announced that further measures would be taken against Turkey for its attack on a Russian warplane. The measures were not specified, but were said to expand upon recently enacted economic sanctions.
The remarks came only days after Putin had accused Turkey and its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, of profiting from the illegal trade in oil by the Islamic State. Since a Turkish F-16 shot down a Russian SU-24 bombing plane over the border between Turkey and Syria in November, relations between the two countries have been increasingly hostile, with both sides maintaining that the other was to blame for the incident. During his address, President Putin deepened the tensions by suggesting more aggressive action.
“If someone thinks they can commit war crimes, kill our people and get away with it, suffering nothing but a ban on tomato imports, as well as a few restrictions in construction or other industries, they’re delusional,” Putin said, referring to a ban on Turkish agricultural products that went into effect with new economic sanctions earlier this week. It is not year clear what further action may be taken against Turkey economically, although it is known that Energy Minister Alexander Novak has officially cancelled all talks with Turkey over the TurkStream natural gas pipeline project.
During the same speech, however, Mr. Putin did rule out the possibility of Russian military retaliation for the incident. “If they expected a nervous or hysterical reaction from us, if they wanted to see us become a danger to ourselves as much as to the world, they won’t get it,” he said. While there had been little evidence to suggest that any kind of direct conflict between Russia and Turkey would occur as a result of the incident, this is the first time that Putin or any other Russian officially has specifically stated that such measures are off limits at present.
Turkey has responded to the Russian statements by continually maintaining that it shot down the aircraft after it had violated Turkish airspace. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has compared the accusations of oil running in cooperation with the Islamic State to Cold War-era Soviet propaganda. While the foreign ministers representing the two countries met for the first time since the incident at a conference in Serbia on Thursday, the disagreement between them has only escalated since the plane was shot down. It is not yet clear how comprehensive new Russian economic actions against Turkey may become.
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