Putin Orders Sanctions Against Turkey
By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered economic sanctions against Turkey over the shooting down of a Russian military jet near the Syrian border on November 24.
The decree, which was published on the Kremlin’s website on November 28, comes hours after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed sadness at the downing of the Russian warplane by Turkish forces.
Addressing supporters on November 28, Erdogan again defended Turkey’s move and criticized Russia for its action in Syria before expressing his regrets.
He renewed a call for a meeting with Putin on the sidelines of a climate conference in Paris next week.
The Kremlin decree includes a ban on some goods and prohibits the extensions of labor contracts for Turkish citizens working in Russia. It doesn’t mention which goods will be banned.
The package of measures calls for ending chartered flights from Russia to Turkey and outlaws Russian tour operators from selling vacation packages to Turkey, a favorite destination for Russian holidaymakers.
Turkey’s shooting down of the Russian jet has drawn a harsh response from Moscow.
It has also proved a distraction for the West, which is looking to build support for a U.S.-led fight against Islamic State in Syria. The nearly five-year-old Syrian civil war has been complicated by Russian air strikes in defense of President Bashar al-Assad.
A Kremlin spokesman said on November 28 that the incident had caused damage to bilateral relations that would be hard to repair.
Earlier, Turkey issued a travel warning urging its nationals to delay nonurgent and unnecessary travel to Russia.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said on November 28 it was issuing the warning because Turkish travelers were facing “problems” in Russia.
It said Turks should delay travel plans until “the situation becomes clear.”
In remarks to Russian TV on November 28, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia was due to announce further sanctions against Turkey later in the day.
“It is prohibited to touch Russia,” Peskov said in the interview, extracts of which had been published in advance by the Interfax news agency.
On November 27, Russia said it will suspend visa-free travel with Turkey.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced that Moscow would suspend its visa-free regime with Turkey starting on January 1.
In explaining the move, Lavrov accused Turkey of becoming a conduit for terrorism and of doing little to help Moscow track down Russian citizens accused of taking part in terrorist acts.
Since the shooting down of its military jet, Russia has restricted tourist travel, left Turkish trucks stranded at the border and begun preparing broader economic sanctions.
Russia’s Agriculture Ministry has already increased checks on food and agriculture imports from Turkey, one of the first visible signs of a curb in bilateral trade.
An association of Russian defense factories — which includes the producers of Kalashnikov rifles, Armata tanks, and Buk missile systems — has recommended its members suspend buying materials from Turkey, according to a letter seen by the Reuters news agency. That could impact contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Turkish government spokesman Numan Kurtulmus said on November 27 that Turkey’s Council of Ministers was also discussing what measures Ankara might take, but added he hoped they wouldn’t last long.
Erdogan warned Russia on November 27 not to “play with fire,” citing reports Turkish businessmen had been detained in Russia.
He has refused to apologize for the plane’s downing, saying it is Moscow that had to answer for violating Turkish airspace.
At the same time, Erdogan said he had tried in vain to speak by phone with Putin since the deadly incident and expressed hope they could meet on the sidelines of a climate summit in Paris on November 30.
The incident was an “automatic response to the airspace violation,” Erdogan said in a speech on November 27.
Ankara says that the bomber entered Turkish airspace and ignored multiple warnings, while Moscow says that the Turkish forces fired at the aircraft above Syria, without warning.
Putin has accused Ankara of a “planned provocation,” and a “stab in the back.”
Putin has ordered the deployment of S-400 air-defense missile systems to a Russian air base in Syria just 50 kilometers south of the border with Turkey to help protect Russian military jets. The Russian military also has moved the missile cruiser Moskva closer to the shore to help cover Russian bombers on combat missions.