Our servicemen are engaged in a heroic fight against terrorism, not sparing themselves or their own lives. However, today’s loss is a result of a stab in the back delivered by terrorists’ accomplices. There is no other way I can qualify what happened today.
Our aircraft was shot down over Syrian territory by an air-to-air missile launched from a Turkish F-16 plane. It fell on Syrian territory, four kilometres from the Turkish border. When it was attacked in the air, it was flying at an altitude of 6,000 metres, one kilometre away from the Turkish territory. In any case, our plane and our pilots were in no way a threat to the Turkish Republic in any way. This is obvious.
They were conducting an operation to fight ISIS in northern Latakia – a mountainous area where militants, mainly those coming from the Russian Federation, are concentrated. In this sense, they were doing their direct duty delivering preventive blows at terrorists who could return to Russia at any moment. Those people should certainly be classified as international terrorists.
We have long been recording the movement of a large amount of oil and petroleum products to Turkey from ISIS-occupied territories. This explains the significant funding the terrorists are receiving. Now they are stabbing us in the back by hitting our planes that are fighting terrorism. This is happening despite the agreement we have signed with our American partners to prevent air incidents, and, as you know, Turkey is among those who are supposed to be fighting terrorism within the American coalition.
If ISIS is making so much money – we are talking about tens or maybe even hundreds of millions, possibly billions of dollars – in oil trade and they are supported by the armed forces of an entire state, it is clear why they are being so daring and impudent, why they are killing people in such gruesome ways, why they are committing terrorist attacks all over the world, including in the heart of Europe.
We will of course carefully analyse what has happened and today’s tragic event will have significant consequences for Russian-Turkish relations.
We have always treated Turkey not merely as a close neighbour, but as a friendly state. I do not know who benefits from what has happened today. We certainly do not. Moreover, instead of immediately establishing contacts with us, as far as we know Turkey turned to its NATO partners to discuss this incident. As if we had hit their plane and not the other way around.
Do they wish to make NATO serve ISIS? I know that every state has its regional interests, and we always respect those. However, we will never turn a blind eye to such crimes as the one that was committed today.
Obviously, we expect the international community to make an effort to join forces in the fight against this common evil.
In this connection, we are counting on the active participation of all the countries in the region in this struggle. I am therefore very happy to meet with you today, Your Majesty. We will continue working with your special services experts and your military, as well as with other countries in the region.