November 25, 2015
The Russian foreign minister says U.S.-controlled NATO is covering up Turkey’s gunning down of the Su-24.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Wednesday that Turkey’s downing of the Su-24 on Tuesday was a planned act of provocation. He also announced the cancellation of his trip to Ankara.
“We have serious doubts that this act was unintentional. It looks very much like a pre-planned provocation,” Lavrov said, according to RT.
However, Lavrov said Russia would not give in to acts of provocation and would not wage a war against Turkey in what was the first time since the 1950s that a NATO member has gunned down a Russian or Soviet military warplane.
Lavrov said all the evidence, including footage of the incident, indicates that Turkey planned the act ahead of time. He also cited Turkey’s failure to maintain proper communication with Russia.
According to RT, Lavrov accused NATO of attempting to cover up the incident in favor of Turkey, but also highlighted the fact the behind closed doors, the Western military bloc condemned Ankara for the action.
Turkey claimed the plane had strayed into its territory and that the pilots were given multiple warnings. Russia maintains the plane was within Syria’s borders, where Russia is carrying out military operations against militants in coordination with the Syrian government.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davotuglu fueled the increasing tensions by slamming Russia for “attacks on Turkmen,” Syria. The Turkish government said that attack preceded the downing of the Russian fighter jet.
“Turkey is interested in buying Islamic State group oil”
Lavrov replied saying the region is not only home to Turkmen people, and said there are hundreds of foreign fighters affiliated with “known terrorist groups and elements of their infrastructure like weapons and command points.”
ANALYSIS: US Points Bloody Finger to Russian ‘Intervention’ in Syria
Lavrov pointed out that Turkey is carrying out actions in that region due to their interest to protect “this (‘terrorist’) infrastructure from destruction.”
The foreign minister explained that the Russian warplane was gunned down shortly after destroying Islamic State group oil convoys and facilities. “This, because Turkey is interested in buying their oil.”
The Moscow diplomat also criticized NATO for not expressing their condolences to Russia over the loss of lives of its troops.
“Very strange statements were voiced after a NATO meeting called by the Turks, which didn’t express any regret or condolences and in effect were aimed at covering up what the Turkish air force did yesterday,” Lavrov said. “Similar reaction came from the European Union.”
The Russian pilot who survived the downing of the jet was picked up by the Syrian Army, the Russian ambassador to France confirmed Wednesday.
The Russian military had confirmed in a statement earlier that one of the pilots was killed after parachuting from the Su-24 fighter jet; a Syrian rebel group released video Tuesday of one of the Russian pilots, lifeless and incapacitated on the ground.
President Vladimir Putin described the Turkish act as a “stab in the back” and warned Ankara that it would have serious consequences on the ties between the two nations.
Turkey imports half of its natural gas from Russia and the two countries have several trade agreements. However, following the Incident, Foreign Minister Lavrov told Russians to avoid traveling to Turkey due to “terrorist threats.”
Following his comments, Natalie Tours, one of the biggest Russian tours operators, suspended sales for Turkey tours.
In September, Moscow ordered airstrikes against Islamic State group in Syria upon the request of the the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad, and has since destroyed thousands of Islamic State group targets.
The Su-24 is a supersonic aircraft operated by two pilots and it is armed with laser guided missiles and three gun pods capable of firing 9,000 rounds per minute. The jet is also equipped with guided air-to-surface missiles, guided, cluster and incendiary bombs.