Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has criticised Turkey in a fresh verbal offensive, ruling out any rapprochement with its current leaders.
Speaking at the Kremlin’s annual press conference on Thursday, he said the Turkish air force’s downing of a Russian fighter plane on the Syria border last month was a “hostile act”.
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Putin said it would be “hard … if at all possible” to reach an agreement with Turkey under its current leadership.
“What have they achieved? Maybe they thought that we would run away from there [Syria]? But Russia is not such a country”.
Putin also suggested that Turkey had acted at the behest of the Americans, with possible tacit approval from the US.
“I don’t know if there was such a trade-off, maybe there was,” Putin said.
“If somebody in the Turkish leadership decided to lick the Americans in one place … I don’t know, if they did the right thing.”
Since the shooting down on November 24 of the Russian plane by Turkey, the leaders of the two countries have exchanged angry allegations focusing on each other’s activities in Syria.
Putin has previously accused Turkey of helping the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group and funding it by buying oil from the fields it controls.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has rejected the charges and has criticised Russia’s air campaign in Syria for disproportionately targeting Syrian rebels and not ISIL fighters.
Turkish officials say the downed Russian Su-24 jet had crossed into Turkish territory and refused to comply with an order to leave, but Russia says the plane was inside Syria.
Before the incident, Turkey had scrambled jets on several occasions to counter what it claims were Russian violations of its airspace.
Putin spoke at length on a number of issues, including the ongoing presidential race in the US and the candidacy of Donald Trump, the leading Republican hopeful who has courted controversy with a threat to ban Muslims from entering the US.
Putin said a Trump victory in next year’s election would allow deeper ties between Washington and Moscow.
“He [Trump] says that he wants to move to another level of relations, to a deeper level of relations with Russia. How can we not welcome it? Of course we welcome it,” he said.
Trump has praised Putin’s decision to take military action in Syria and his warm words towards the Russian leader stand in sharp contrast to current US policy towards Russia.
The US strongly opposes Russia’s involvement in eastern Ukraine and in Syria.