SOCHI, January 12. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin said he considers Turkey’s request addressed to NATO for protection after an incident with Russia’s Su-24 bomber a step that is "odd" and "humiliating" for that country.
"Turkey is a NATO member. However, the problems that have emerged have nothing to do with Turkey’s NATO membership; nobody has attacked Turkey," Putin told the German newspaper Bild in an interview.
"Instead of trying to provide us with an explanation for the war crime they committed, that is, for downing our fighter jet that was targeting terrorists, the Turkish government rushed to NATO headquarters seeking protection, which looks quite odd and, in my view, humiliating for Turkey," he said.
"I repeat, NATO has to protect its members from attack, but nobody has attacked Turkey. If Turkey has vested interests elsewhere in the world, in the adjacent countries, does it mean that NATO must protect and secure these interests? Does it mean that Germany, as a NATO member, must help Turkey to expand into neighbouring territories?" Putin said.
The Turkish Air Force’s F-16 fighter on November 24 shot down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24M bomber, involved in Russia's antiterrorism operation in Syria, that Ankara claims violated the country’s airspace on the border with Syria.
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.
Relations between Russia and Turkey considerably deteriorated after the incident. Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that Turkey’s attack will have "serious consequences" for Russian-Turkish relations.
Putin said Ankara’s attack against the Russian Sukhoi Su-24 plane, which took part in Russia’s antiterrorism operation in Syria and did not present a threat to Turkey, was a "stab in Russia’s back" delivered by terrorists’ accomplices.
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.