MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin called on Thursday for “one powerful fist” to fight terrorism, hinted at more sanctions against Turkey and accused Western powers of creating “a zone of chaos”.
Speaking in his state-of-the-nation address televised live, Putin called for an end to what he called double standards that hampered uniting global efforts in fighting terrorism. Without naming the United States, he accused Washington and its allies of turning Iraq, Syria and Libya into a “zone of chaos and anarchy threatening the entire world” by supporting change of regimes in those countries.
Putin didn’t address efforts to start a peace process in Syria in his speech, focusing on the need to pool global efforts in the fight against terrorism following the attacks in Paris and the downing of a Russian passenger plane in Egypt.
The the militant Islamic State group (IS) has claimed responsibility for both.
“We must leave all arguments and disagreements behind and make one powerful fist, a single anti-terror front, which would work on the basis of international law under the aegis of the United Nations,” he said, addressing lawmakers and top officials who had gathered in an ornate Kremlin hall.
“That means no shelter to bandits, no double standards, no contacts whatsoever with any terrorist organisations, no attempts to use them for some selfish goals, no criminal, bloody business with terrorists.” Putin specifically targeted Turkey, accusing it of “allowing terrorists to earn money by selling oil stolen from Syria”.
“For that money the bandits are recruiting mercenaries, buying weapons and staging cruel terror attacks aimed against our citizens, as well as citizens of France, Lebanon, Mali and other countries,” he said.
He accused Turkey of a “treacherous war crime” in downing a Russian warplane at the border with Syria. “Allah must have punished Turkey’s ruling clique by depriving it of sense and reason,” Putin said.
Turkey said the plane violated its airspace for 17 seconds despite repeated warnings; Russia denies that. The shoot-down, the first time a Nato country has downed a Russian plane in more than half a century, triggered a bitter falling out between the two nations, which had developed robust economic ties.
Moscow deployed long-range air defence missile systems to its base in Syria 50 kilometers south of the border with Turkey and slammed an array of economic sanctions on Turkey, including a ban on imports of fruit and vegetables and the sales of tour packages.
“We will remind them not just once about what they have done, and they will feel sorry about it more than just once,” Putin said without spelling out what other actions Russia may take.
“But if anyone thinks that after committing a treacherous war crime, the killing of our people, they will get away with (the ban on imports) of tomatoes or some restrictions on construction and other industries, they are deeply mistaken.
“Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Thursday that talks with Turkey on building a pipeline that would allow Russia to export natural gas to the European Union through Turkey have been halted.
Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2015