MOSCOW, December 17. /TASS/. The Russian president is not certain if the incident with the downed Russian bomber over Syria late last month could have been the result of somebody’s decision in the Turkish authorities to suck up to the United States.
Asked during his annual marathon news conference whether a third party could have been possibly involved in the downing of the Russian warplane by a Turkish fighter, Putin said "I understand what you are hinting at."
"We do not know it for sure and we do not know whether it was right or wrong if somebody in the Turkish authorities decided to lick Americans in a certain place," Putin said.
"Firstly, I do not know whether Americans need it or not," he said. "Perhaps there were some agreements at a certain level, that ‘we shoot down a Russian plane and you close your eyes on it,’ and that we, let’s say, enter Iraq and occupy some part of Iraq."
"I do not know, but maybe such exchange did take place, however, we do not know it for sure," Putin said.
An F-16 fighter jet from the Turkish Air Force shot down on November 24 a Russian Su-24M bomber, which was on anti-terrorism mission over Syria. Ankara claims the Su-24M bomber violated the Turkish air space in the area of the border with Syria, while Moscow maintains that the Su-24M plane stayed exclusively over the Syrian territory.
Putin called the actions of Ankara in regard to the Russian military plane as "hostile."
"We say that the action of the Turkish authorities in regard to our aircraft, which they downed, was not an act of unfriendliness, but an act of hostility," he said. "A military aircraft was shot down and people died."
"What we were particularly outraged with is that if it had been an accident - and Turkish authorities allegedly did not know that it was a Russian plane - what is to be done in such cases? People were killed! A phone call must be made and explanations to follow. But instead of that they [the Turkish authorities] immediately ran to Brussels ‘Help, help, we are being insulted!’ Did we touch anyone there? They began then hiding behind NATO. Did NATO need it? It turned out that they [NATO] did not."
Russia has not yet seen any steps of the Turkish leadership after the incident over Ankara’s downing of the Russian Su-24 jet.
"I do not want to answer for other persons and leaders of other states. If they believe it is possible and necessary to do something, let them do so. We see nothing yet," he said.
Vladimir Putin stressed that Russia is not a country that would leave the region after the jet incident.
According to Putin, Turkish people remain Russia’s partners, but it is impossible to come to agreement with the current Turkish leadership.
"The Turkish people and other Turkic-language people were our partners and friends and remain so. Of course, we will and should continue contacts with them," Putin stressed.
"Practice shows that it is difficult for us or practically impossible to come to agreement with the current Turkish leadership," Putin said.
According to the Russian leader, crawling Islamization affects the national security of Russia and Turkey assists the process by offering medical assistance and shelter to militants.
"The crawling Islamization is irritating us as well," Putin said addressing his annual news conference. "We do see and register the presence of militants in Turkey and among them, for instance, are those from [Russia’s] North Caucasus."
"We have repeatedly told our partners that we are not doing the same thing in regard to Turkey," he said. "But they [militants] continue staying there [in Turkey], get medical treatment and are protected. Afterwards, they use the visa-free regime, enter [Russia] using Turkish passports and eventually dissolve."
Putin said it was the main reason to scrap Russia’s visa-free regime with Turkey.
"We definitely had to do that as well as taking other steps to provide for our state security," Putin said.