Vladimir Putin has approved a raft of economic sanctions against Turkey in retaliation for the downing of a Russian warplane by Turkish forces. The move came after Turkey’s Erdogan expressed regret over the incident.
President Putin on Saturday signed a decree which bans the import of some Turkish products and forbids Russian firms from hiring Turkish citizens.
The measures also include orders to suspend visa-free travel for Turkish citizens, end charter flights from Russia to Turkey, and for Russian tourism companies to stop selling trips to Turkey – a favorite holiday destination for many Russians.
The Kremlin said the decree aimed to “ensure Russia’s national security and protect Russian citizens from criminal and other illegal activities.”
It also said the operations of Turkish companies in Russia would face restrictions, and ordered the government to prepare a list of goods, firms and jobs that would be affected.
‘We wish it hadn’t happened’
The measures, published on the Kremlin’s website, came hours after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he was “truly saddened” by Tuesday’s incident, which saw Turkish F-16 jets shoot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian-Turkish border.
“We wish it hadn’t happened as such, but unfortunately such a thing has happened. I hope that something like this doesn’t occur again,” he said.
It was the first partly conciliatory statement from the Turkish leader since the jet’s downing, which has angered Russia and led to a breakdown in relations between the two countries. Turkey insists the plane violated its airspace and was sent repeated warnings to change its course. Moscow says it never left Syrian territory and was fired at without notice.
Addressing his supporters in the western city of Balikesir on Saturday, Erdogan warned that neither country should allow the situation to escalate and take a destructive form that would have “dire consequences in the future.” He also renewed his call for a “face to face” meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Paris climate talks next week.
“What we tell Russia is: ‘Let’s resolve this issue between ourselves and within its boundaries. Let’s not make others happy by destroying our whole relationship,” Erdogan said.
“Russia is important for Turkey as much as Turkey is important for Russia. Both countries cannot afford to give up on each other.”
President Putin, who condemned the incident as a “treacherous stab in the back,” has since refused to take telephone calls from the Turkish leader. He has also demanded an apology.
Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, on Saturday said the Russian leader was aware of Erdogan’s request for a meeting, but gave no indication about whether it might take place. Peskov called the Turkish air force’s behavior “absolute madness” and said Ankara’s handling of the crisis resembled the “theater of the absurd.”
“Nobody has the right to traitorously shoot down a Russian plane from behind,” Peskov told Russia’s “News on Saturday” TV program, adding that the president was “mobilized, fully mobilized, mobilized to the extent that circumstances demand.”
Russian authorities had been warning for days that Moscow planned to impose a string of economic sanctions. Turkey, for its part, has advised its citizens to avoid traveling to Russia, saying Turkish travelers were facing “problems” in the country.
nm/rc (AP, Reuters, dpa, AFP)