Time: 6:14 p.m. CEST
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said that the Turkish downing of a Russian warplane was “an enemy act” and refused the international efforts for a removal of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, CNN reported in the online article. On November 24, Turkish F-16s shot down the Russian Su-24, on which Turkey said that it violated its airspace. One of the two pilots of the Russian military plane died, and Putin said during the annual news conference that Turkey had other options.
“Would it not just have been easier just to pick up the phone?” Putin asked at his annual press conference in Moscow, which lasted about three hours. Putin also appeared to take aim at Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Putin said that, Russia has increased its aviation presence in Syria. The incident with the military space happened close to the Turkish-Syrian border. “This was a stab in the back,” Putin said. “On interstate level, I do not see the prospect for improving relations.”
Putin reaffirmed his view that he would never agree others to determine Syria’s political future. “Only the Syrian people can determine who should govern them and under what standards, what rules,” Putin said.
As CNN reports, Putin declined to comment on the U.S. presidential campaign.
“Whoever it is, we are ready and we want to develop our relations with the United States,” he said. “We are going to work with any president the American people vote for.”
Official transcript of Russia’s President news conference