Russia has right to military response after jet downing: Lower House speaker

Lower House speaker Sergei Naryshkin.
Lower House speaker Sergei Naryshkin.PHOTO: REUTERS

BUCHAREST (Reuters, AFP) - Russia has the right to make a military response after the downing of a Russian jet earlier this week by Nato member Turkey, Lower House speaker Sergei Naryshkin said on Friday (Nov 27).

Spaking in an interview with Romanian television station Digi24, Naryshkin said: "This is intentional murder of our soldiers and this deed must be punished."

"We know those who did this and they must be judged. At the same time, the response from the Russian side will surely follow, in line with international law. And aside from this, Russia has also the right to military response," added Naryskin, who was attending a meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (PABSEC) in Bucharest.

He said Moscow had allocated additional military resources on Thursday to boost the security of Russian fighter jets.

Meanwhile in Moscow, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Ankara has crossed the line by shooting down a Russian warplane this week and warned the incident could severely undermine Turkey's interests.

"We believe that the Turkish leadership has crossed the line of what is acceptable," Lavrov said at the start of talks with Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem on Friday.

Ankara "risks putting Turkey in a most severe situation, with respect to both its long-term national interests and the situation in the region," he said. He told reporters after the talks Russia would suspend its visa-free regime for Turkish nationals from January.  “A decision has been made to halt the visa-free regime with Turkey. This decision will enter into force from January 1, 2016,” said Lavrov.

Moscow is reeling after a Russian warplane carrying out strikes in Syria was shot down on the Turkish-Syrian border on Tuesday - an incident President Vladimir Putin described as a "treachery" and a "stab in the back."

Ankara has argued that it did not realise the plane, which it said had violated Turkish airspace, was Russian, and claimed it issued multiple warnings to the pilot to change course.

The incident led to the death of two Russian officers - Moscow's first combat deaths since it launched a bombing campaign in Syria on Sept 30 - including the pilot and a special forces soldier who participated in a rescue operation.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday sought to ease tensions with Moscow, calling for unity against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and arguing the shooting of the plane was not an act against Russia.

The Kremlin however did not seem in a conciliatory mood.

Putin on Friday discussed the downing with his security council, particularly the "increased tensions over Syria against the background of Turkey's aggressive and unpredictable actions," his spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

The Russian government is currently preparing economic retaliatory measures against Turkey, a major trading partner particularly in the tourism and agriculture sectors.

Peskov confirmed the Kremlin had received a proposal from Erdogan to hold a meeting with Putin in Paris next week but did not say whether Moscow had accepted or refused the offer.

Putin had previously refused to take Erdogan's call following the plane downing.

Peskov confirmed that Putin was "made aware" of the Turkish leader's attempt to communicate, which was made several hours after the plane was shot down.