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Putin Says Turkey Will Regret Shooting Down Russian Warplane

  • RFE/RL

President Vladimir Putin has used an annual speech to Russian officials to lash out against the Turkish government, saying it facilitates terrorism and calling the recent shooting down by Turkey of a Russian warplane along the Turkey-Syria border a "betrayal."

Speaking in his annual state-of-the-nation address to a joint session of parliament and members of the government on December 3, Putin accused unspecified Turkish leaders of "lining their pockets and enabling terrorists through the sale of oil stolen in Syria."

He added that although Moscow's reaction will be measured and will correspond with Russia's national interests, it will not be limited to the economic sanctions already adopted.

"But if anyone thinks that having committed this awful war crime, the murder of our people, that they are going to get away with some measures concerning their tomatoes or some limits on construction and other sectors, they are sorely mistaken," Putin said.

Russia's Defense Ministry claimed on December 2 that Erdogan and his family were involved in the illegal oil trade with IS. Erdogan has rejected the charge and on December 3 said he had proof that Russia itself was involved in trading oil with IS.

Jet Shootdown

Russia has already banned some Turkish food imports as part of a sanctions package, and Moscow has accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his family of benefiting from the smuggling of oil from Islamic State (IS)-controlled territory in Syria and Iraq, allegations Turkey denies.

A Turkish fighter shot down a Russian Su-24 on November 24. One Russian pilot was killed in the incident and another Russian serviceman was killed during the search-and-rescue mission that ensued.

Live Blog: Putin's Speech As It Happened

Putin said he had no idea why Turkey shot down the Russian plane, speculating that "apparently Allah decided to punish the ruling clique in Turkey by taking away their reason and judgement."

In his hour-long address in the glittering St. George Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace, Putin also called for a "united antiterrorist front, based on international law and under the aegis of the United Nations."

Putin said that countries "should not apply double standards on terror" or use terrorist groups for their own purposes.

Although Putin did not mention the United States directly, he seemed to refer to Washington when he said that countries like Iraq, Libya, and Syria have been destabilized and "turned into a zone of chaos and anarchy."

READ MORE: Are Putin, Erdogan Too Much Alike To Compromise?

"We know why this happened," Putin said. "We know who wanted to change these inconvenient regimes and who wanted to roughly enforce its own rules. And what has been the result? They have created this mess, destroyed sovereignty, set people against one another and then, as we say in Russia, they washed their hands of the whole thing, paving the way for radicals, extremists, and terrorists."

Fight Against Terrorism

Putin opened his speech with a tribute to Russia's armed services and asked the audience to stand for a moment of silence in tribute to "the memory of all Russian citizens who have died at the hands of terrorists." The widows of the two servicemen who died in Syria were in attendance.

Putin called Russia's fight against terrorism "a fight for freedom, truth, and justice; for the lives of people and for the future of civilization."

He then noted that Russia will hold parliamentary elections in 2016, calling on all parties and candidates not to make any statements that would endanger Russia's "unity," which Putin said is "the most important thing for us."

He added that the elections must be "honest and transparent." "We must ensure unconditional public confidence in the results of the elections and their solid legitimacy," he said.

The domestic portion of Putin's speech focused on economic and economic-development issues. He noted that the current situation is "difficult, but not critical" for Russia, saying that some economic indicators like inflation and the rate of capital flight had improved of late.

He noted that corruption is a major obstacle to economic development and cited the "necessity of boosting the independence and objectivity of the judicial process," but offered no concrete proposals.

Likewise, he stressed the need to diversify the Russian economy and decrease its dependence on energy commodities, as he has done in previous state-of-the-nation addresses.

He called for Russia to achieve food independence by 2020 and called for increased efforts in the area of bio-food production.

Putin did not mention several issues that have been attracting attention in Russia recently: the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and Russia's support for separatists in Ukraine's Donbas region; heightened tensions over the Ukrainian region of Crimea, which Russia annexed in March 2014, and the electricity cutoff that the region has experienced lately; the mass protests of Russia's long-distance truckers against a government attempt to apply a road tax to them; and allegations by opposition politician Aleksei Navalny of massive corruption against Prosecutor-General Yury Chaika and his family.

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