Russia and Turkey’s relations continued to deteriorate Thursday as Russian president Vladimir Putin said Turkey’s government was driving relations with them “into a dead-end.”
The remarks came as Moscow tightened control on the import of Turkish goods and threatened widespread economic retaliation in the wake of a Russian bomber being shot down by Turkish jets and Turkey refused to apologize for the incident.
“We have the impression that the Turkish government is deliberately driving relations with Russia into a dead-end,” Putin told a televised gathering of new foreign ambassadors, freshly arrived in Moscow.
Turkey’s leader, president Tayyip Erdogan, struck back, telling local governors in his palace that it was Russia’s ally, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad who bought ISIS oil and that those making the claims were “slanderers.”
He also told CNN that “if there is a party that needs to apologize, it is not us.”
“Those who violated our airspace are the ones who need to apologize,” he said.
Russia’s Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev said Russia would be launching a range of “response measures” targeting Turkish economic interests in Russia. He said the measures could involve the suspension of major joint projects, as well as raising import tariffs. The measures will be determined in the next two days, he said.
Russia’s state consumer watchdogs said that they had discovered dangerous and poor quality goods among Turkish imports and announced they were imposing reinforced inspection measures on products from Turkey, in particular food products but also furniture and other consumer goods. One agency, Rospotrebnadzor said it already seized almost a ton of Turkish products.
The intensified checks resulted in a build-up of Turkish trucks at the border, local Russian media reported, with some Turkish vehicles being forced to turn-back.
A Kremlin spokesman denied that any sort of embargo was in place, but the consumer watchdog only announced it had found Turkish products to be dangerous two days after Turkey downed the Russian jet.
“There is no kind of embargo being imposed. It is just reinforced controls,” the spokesman Dmitrii Peskov told the news agency Interfax.
But he added that “it’s absolutely natural given the unpredictable actions in the case of the Turkish Republic.”
Another official, the deputy head of Russia’s agricultural standards agency, Nikolai Vlasov, was more direct, telling Interfax the measures were needed to prevent “enemy tricks” from the Turkish side.
Russian and Turkish relations have fallen off precipitously since Turkish fighter planes shot down a Russian Su-24 jet on the Syria-Turkey border on Tuesday morning, leading to the death of one pilot and a harrowing rescue operation to rescue the other. Turkey insists that the plane had violated Turkish airspace and had received multiple warnings to change course, a claim Russia disputes.
To back up its position Turkish military officials released audio recordings of what it said were 10 warnings issued in 5 minutes to the Russian jet. On the recordings, passed to ABC, a voice can be heard repeatedly warning a plane it is approaching Turkish airspace and to turn back.
Russia, however, rejected the claims and the jet’s surviving pilot, Captain Konstantin Murakhtin, said he had been given no kind of warning at anytime before his plane was hit. Speaking to Russian state television at an airbase in Syria after his rescue, Murakhtin also denied his aircraft had crossed into Turkish “even for a second”.
Both sides have so far largely sought to avoid escalation, with Russia’s foreign minister saying Russia has no intention of fighting a war, but on Thursday the two countries’ leaders traded back-handed accusations.
Although most Russians do not want a military response to the shooting down of the plane, the incident has prompted low-boiling anger among many.
On Wednesday night, a Moscow radio station, Ekho Moskvi, reported dozens of people had marched on a brewery belonging to the Turkish beer brand, Efes, in the city of Ulyanovsk and demanded that those inside remove the Turkish flag.