MOSCOW, (Reuters) – Russia’s Vladimir Putin subjected Turkey to a furious tirade yesterday, using barrack-room language to wonder aloud whether it had shot down a Russian warplane last month to curry favour with the United States. Addressing almost 1,400 reporters in a cavernous hall inside a Moscow conference centre, the Russian president dedicated a chunk of his annual news conference to spelling out why he saw no prospect of a rapprochement with Ankara.
“If someone in the Turkish leadership decided to lick the Americans in a particular place I don’t know whether they acted correctly or not and I don’t know … whether the Americans needed that,” said Putin, referring to the shooting down.
Putin said he could imagine a scenario where there was a deal for Turkey to shoot down a Russian plane in return for Washington turning a blind eye to Turkish troops entering Iraq.
“Perhaps there was such an arrangement,” he said.
Turkey’s downing of a Russian SU-24 fighter bomber near the Syrian-Turkish border on Nov. 24 prompted Putin to impose economic sanctions on Turkey who he claimed had stabbed Russia in the back.
Turkey said it was acting to defend its airspace. Moscow said its plane had not overflown Turkey.