Early on Tuesday morning, Turkey shot down a Russian military plane near the Turkey-Syria border. Afterward, Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the downing of his aircraft during a public appearance with Jordan's King Abdullah in Sochi. Here are the comments, translated by Russia's English-language propaganda outlet Russia Today (starts at 5:40):
Putin, clearly, is quite angry. He calls Turkey's actions a "stab in [Russia's] back," and blames the country for enabling ISIS's "barbarous, heinous ways" by allowing it to sell oil in Turkish territory. Most ominously, he threatens "serious consequences" for relations between Russia and Turkey, a NATO ally:
We have long identified that there are a lot of oil and petro products coming to Turkey from [ISIS] territory. And some of these military groups get their financing from there. And now they stab us in the back; they hit our planes that are fighting terrorism. Together with the US partners, we signed an agreement to prevent incidents in the air.
And they announce that they are fighting terrorism as part of the US-led coalition. If ISIS has these amounts of money — and could it be even billions of dollars — due to the sales of oil and plus they have protection of the armed forces of the big state, then now it's clear why they're so blatant, why they kill people in the most barbarous, heinous ways. Why they conduct terrorist attacks in many places, including in the heart of Europe.
Certainly, we will analyze what's happening very seriously, and today's tragic event will have serious consequences for Russian-Turkish relations. We have always treated Turkey as not just a close neighbor, but as a friendly state. I don't know in whose interests today's incident is, but it's not in our interest. And instead of immediately establishing the necessary contacting us, the Turkish authorities immediately their NATO partners, as if we downed a Turkish jet.
Putin has something of a point. For a long time, even Western analysts agreed that Turkey did very little to shut down ISIS supply lines that ran across its border into Syria, seemingly because it and ISIS had shared enemies (Bashar al-Assad and the Kurdish fighters in northern Syria). But that hardly amounts to active support for ISIS, let alone the kind of active support that would cause Turkey to shoot down a Russian plane.
As for Putin's bellicose rhetoric, it's worth taking it with a grain of salt: Some of it is for domestic consumption, to make Russia look strong in the face of the death of at least one of its own.
"Putin's primary goal re downed fighter is to save face at home," Sam Greene, director of the King's Russia Institute at King's College London, tweeted. "Expect the rhetorical bark to be much worse than the policy bite."