Putin hints US ‘leaked’ flight path of downed Russian jet to Turkey
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Putin hints US ‘leaked’ flight path of downed Russian jet to Turkey

Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the US on Friday of “leaking” the flight path of a downed jet to Turkish authorities, The Independent reported.

world Updated: Nov 27, 2015 21:53 IST
Turkish jet downing,Vladimir Putin,Putin-Hollande meet
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a news conference after a meeting with his French counterpart Francois Hollande at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia.(REUTERS)

Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the US on Friday of “leaking” the flight path of a downed jet to Turkish authorities, The Independent reported.

“The American side, which leads the coalition that Turkey belongs to, knew about the location and time of our planes’ flights, and we were hit exactly there and at that time,” Putin said at a joint news conference with French President Francois Hollande.

Russia threatened economic retaliation against Turkey on Thursday and said it was still awaiting a reasonable explanation for the shooting down of its warplane, but Turkey dismissed the threats as “emotional” and “unfitting”.

In an escalating war of words, President Tayyip Erdogan responded to Russian accusations that Turkey has been buying oil and gas from Islamic State in Syria by accusing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his backers, which include Moscow, of being the real source of the group’s financial and military power.

The shooting down of the jet by the Turkish air force on Tuesday was one of the most serious clashes between a NATO member and Russia, and further complicated international efforts to battle Islamic State militants.

Putin said, under the cooperation already established with the US-led coalition, Russia’s military had passed on details of the flight plan of the jet that was shot down this week. “Why did we pass this information to the Americans? Either they were not controlling what their allies were doing, or they are leaking this information all over the place,” he said.

Read: Turkish army releases audio of warnings to downed Russian jet

Putin has asked France to draw up a map of where groups fighting Islamic State militants operate in Syria in order not to bomb them, France’s foreign minister said on Friday.

Hollande and Putin agreed during talks in Moscow on Thursday to exchange intelligence on Islamic State and other rebel groups to improve the effectiveness of their aerial bombing campaigns in Syria.

The West has accused Moscow of targeting mostly Western- backed rebel groups fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad instead of Islamic State.

France has stepped up its aerial bombing campaign of Islamic State targets in Syria since the group claimed responsibility for attacks in Paris on November 13 that killed 130 people.

The militants have also claimed the downing of a Russian airliner that broke up over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on October 31, killing all 224 people on board.

However, in what could prove a stumbling block to cooperation between Moscow and the West, Putin and Hollande remained at odds on Thursday over the fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Assad is an ally of Russia but Western countries, Turkey and Sunni Arab states such as Saudi Arabia blame him for Syria’s nearly five-year civil war and want him removed from power.

“If we want to move towards a free, united ... Syria, it cannot be that he (Assad) who is at the origin of 300,000 deaths and millions of refugees can lead (Syria) ... Assad cannot be the future of his people,” Fabius said.

Hollande said in Moscow Paris was ready to increase its support for groups fighting Islamic State on the ground. French officials have said they are studying whether to deploy special forces to assist them, a measure that was discussed with US President Barack Obama in Washington on Tuesday.

The United States has already sent special forces and Fabius said France could follow suit.

“There is a rule as regards committing special forces and that (is that) in general we don’t say it,” he said. “So we could do it without saying it and if we do, it would by definition be a small number.”

First Published: Nov 27, 2015 16:54 IST