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MOSCOW, November 27. /TASS/. Russia did not deploy its air defense means in Syria because it did not expect Turkey to attack, Russian President Vladimir Putin told journalists after talks with French President Francois Hollande on Thursday.
"It could not even occur to us that we could receive a strike from a country, which we used to consider our ally," the Russian leader said. He explained that the Russian planes in Syria had been unprotected to attacks by fighter jets.
"Had it ever occurred to us that it’s possible, Russia would have deployed its S-400 class anti-aircraft systems in Syria long ago and would have used other means to protect its aircraft - fighter escort, thermal guard etc.," the Russian president said.
Moscow proceeded from the fact that Russian aircraft worked at altitudes that "the criminal hand of terrorists can’t reach", Putin underscored, adding that terrorist groups have no hardware capable of downing planes at altitudes higher than 3-4 kilometers.
Now, Putin continued, after the death of Russian servicemen, Russia will ensure security for its aircraft.
"That’s why we deployed there the state-of-the-art S-400 system, it has a long range and is one of the most efficient systems of that kind in the world," he said. "But we will not confine ourselves to that. If necessary, we will use fighter escort, other means, including electronic warfare."
The Turkish Air Force’s F-16 fighter on Tuesday shot down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24M bomber that Ankara claims violated the country’s airspace on the border with Syria. The Su-24M crew ejected but one of the two pilots was killed by fire from the ground. The second pilot was rescued as a result of a 12-hour operation. During evacuation of the Su-24M crew, a Mi-8 helicopter was lost and a contract marine was killed.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said the Su-24M was above Syrian territory and "there was no violation of Turkey’s airspace." It said the Turkish Air Force fighter violated Syria’s airspace.
To protect Russian aircraft in Syria, state-of-the-art S-400 air defense systems, whose killing range reaches 400 kilometers, were redeployed to the Khmeimim airbase. Besides, the Russian missile cruiser Moskva equipped with the Fort air defense system (sea version of S-300) approached the Syrian coast.
Russia’s Defense Ministry warned that Russian strike aircraft will be escorted by fighters during sorties, while all potentially dangerous targets will be destroyed.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that Turkey’s attack will have "serious consequences" for Russian-Turkish relations.
Russia’s Aerospace Forces started delivering pinpoint strikes in Syria at facilities of the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organizations, which are banned in Russia, on September 30, 2015, on a request from Syrian President Bashar Assad.