Putin slaps sanctions on Turkey after jet downing

The coffin of the pilot killed when Turkey shot down a Russian warplane being carried to a Turkish aircraft at Hatay Airport in the southern Turkish province of Hatay, in preparation for its return to Russia.
The coffin of the pilot killed when Turkey shot down a Russian warplane being carried to a Turkish aircraft at Hatay Airport in the southern Turkish province of Hatay, in preparation for its return to Russia.PHOTO: REUTERS

Economic curbs, including ban on charter flights and imports, imposed amid stand-off

MOSCOW • Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree imposing a raft of punitive economic sanctions against Turkey last Saturday, underlining the depth of the Kremlin's anger towards Ankara four days after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane.

This was as, late on the same day, the body of the pilot killed in the incident was being moved to Turkey in preparation for its return to Russia, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said.

The body was being treated in accordance with the Orthodox tradition, Mr Davutoglu said at a news conference in Ankara yesterday. He said Russia's military attache was going to Hatay in southern Turkey yesterday as part of procedures to recover the remains.

Mr Putin's decree, which entered into force immediately, said charter flights from Russia to Turkey would be banned, that tour firms would be told not to sell any holidays there, and that unspecified Turkish imports would be outlawed, and Turkish firms and nationals would have their economic activities halted or curbed.

"The circumstances are unprecedented. The gauntlet thrown down to Russia is unprecedented. So naturally the reaction is in line with this threat," Mr Dmitry Peskov, Mr Putin's spokesman, said hours before the decree was published.

A senior Turkish official said the sanctions would only worsen the stand-off between Moscow and Ankara. But aides to Mr Putin say he is incandescent with anger that Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has yet to apologise for the Nov 24 incident near the Syrian-Turkish border in which the Russian pilot was killed, along with a Russian marine who tried to rescue the crew of the downed SU-24 jet.

Senior Russian officials have called the episode, one of the most serious publicly acknowledged clashes between a Nato member country and Russia for half a century, a pre-planned provocation.

Mr Erdogan has been equally robust in his response. He has said that Turkey will not apologise for downing the jet, saying Ankara was fully within its rights to defend its air space.

But last Saturday, he appeared to soften his rhetoric a little, saying the episode had saddened him.

Mr Putin's spokesman suggested that the Russian leader was ready for a long stand-off, however, saying he was "fully mobilised" to tackle what he regarded as an unprecedented threat from Turkey.

The decree, posted on the Kremlin's website, spoke of the need to protect Russia's security and Russian citizens "from criminal and other illegal activities".

In it, Mr Putin ordered the government to prepare a list of goods, companies and jobs that would be affected. Some of the measures announced have already been informally introduced.

The government is expected to publish the list of banned imports today, the Interfax news agency reported, citing a government source. The list is likely to include food and some other products, a second government source said.

Turkey sells mainly food, agricultural products and textiles to Moscow and is also one of the most popular holiday destinations for Russians. Mr Peskov said up to 200,000 Turkish citizens could be on Russian soil.

Mr Putin signed the decree days before a climate change summit in Paris. Mr Erdogan said earlier last Saturday that it could be a chance to repair relations with Moscow. "Confrontation will not bring anyone happiness. As much as Russia is important for Turkey, Turkey is important for Russia," Mr Erdogan said in a televised speech.

Mr Peskov said Mr Putin was aware of a Turkish request for him to meet Mr Erdogan on the sidelines of the Paris conference but gave no indication of whether such a meeting would take place.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 30, 2015, with the headline 'Putin slaps sanctions on Turkey after jet downing'. Print Edition | Subscribe