Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused America of being part of a plan to destroy its military jets in Syria on Tuesday, saying that the U.S. knew exactly when and where the downed Russian Su-24 jet was travelling.
During a press conference at the Kremlin on Thursday, Putin said the U.S. leaked confidential information about the flight path of the downed plane to Turkey.
In other developments, Putin’s dreaded S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems – mobilised in the wake of the jet’s destruction – were photographed being unloaded from military transports in Syria.
He also vowed to join France in coordinating bombing campaigns against ISIS forces and agreed to share intelligence information.
It is hoped the move will be the start of closer ties between Moscow and the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition following the Paris terror attacks – despite the animosity brewing over the downed jet.
The Turkish military shot the Russian Su-24 warplane close to the Syrian border on Tuesday after they said it entered the country’s airspace, causing a rift in relations.
Both pilots ejected from the plane and one, Captain Konstantin Murakhtin, was rescued by Russian special forces after he landed in the forest in rebel-held territory but the other, Lieutenant Colonel Oleg Peshkov was shot dead by rebels.
Putin told gathered media: ‘The American side, which leads the coalition that Turkey belongs to, knew about the location and time of our planes’ flights, and we were hit exactly there and at that time.
‘Why did we pass this information to the Americans? Either they were not controlling what their allies were doing, or they are leaking this information all over the place.’
Ahead of the conference, Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan traded barbs, with the Russian leader saying he was waiting for an apology and Erdogan ruling out any such move.
Putin has dismissed as ‘rubbish’ Turkey’s claim that it would not have shot down the jet if it had known it was Russian.
‘They [our planes] have identification signs and these are well visible. Instead of… ensuring this never happens again, we are hearing unintelligible explanations and statements that there is nothing to apologise about.’