Before Su-24 downing Putin personally apologized to Erdogan over previous airspace violation

© Michael Klimentyev
Prior to the downing of the Su-24, Russian President Vladimir Putin had personally apologized to Turkey’s Erdogan for the previous violation of Turkish airspace by a Russian aircraft, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has stated.

In an interview with Italian journalists, Lavrov said that Russia sees no other reason behind the incident with its Su-24 other than an attempt by Turkey to undermine anti-terrorism efforts or even derail the political process in Syria, which has begun to take shape on the basis of the Vienna agreement.

Our assessment of what happened on November 24 remains completely the same. We see no other explanation other than a desire to disrupt counterterrorism efforts and make them less effective, or to prevent the Russian Federation from working in Syrian airspace, or perhaps even to derail the political process beginning to take shape on the basis of the Vienna agreement.”

Lavrov also said that Moscow has long known about the use of Turkish territory for the training of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) militants for a number of operations, including in the North Caucasus, but was reluctant to talk about it publicly, not wanting to believe that official support came from Ankara.

Frankly, we have known for a long time how Turkish territory is being used for commercial operations with ISIS, for the transfer of weapons and terrorists to Syria, as well as to provide extremists and militants with an opportunity to heal and rest, and then get ready for new operations, not only in Syria, but also in other regions, including our North Caucasus,” Lavrov said.

Lavrov has proposed a thorough examination on how Turkey performs goals set by the coalition in Syria.

We need to examine how a member of the US-led coalition – the Republic of Turkey – performs goals set by the coalition,” the minister said. "Why is it not bombing terrorists as such, but the Kurds instead? [Kurds] whom Americans consider as potential, and maybe already actual, allies in the fight against terror.”

Islamic State can be defeated “quickly enough” if the potential of the US coalition and that of Russia's air force are united, the Russian foreign minister stressed. It's also important to arrange coordination with ground forces, Lavrov stated.

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“It [the anti-terrorist coalition] should be comprised, first and foremost, of ground forces, with air support. Air power is sufficient if you sum up the potential of the US coalition and of the Russian Federation, and in the case of establishing a clear interaction with ground forces, I believe the Islamic State problem can be solved quickly enough.”