MOSCOW (Bloomberg)—Turkey may have planned to shoot down a Russian warplane near its border amid questions over its support for Syrian rebels, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
“We have serious doubts that this was an unpremeditated act,” Lavrov told reporters in Moscow on Wednesday. “It looks very much like a planned provocation” and the question arises whether Turkey is defending areas of Syria to protect rebel infrastructure, he said.
The situation with the Islamic State’s illegal oil trade in areas it controls “stands in a new light” after Tuesday’s downing of the Russian jet over northwestern Syria, Lavrov said. The incident “happened after our aircraft began making extremely effective strikes on the oil tanker trucks and oil fields,” he said.
Turkey said it shot down the plane after the pilots ignored repeated warnings about violating its airspace. Russia’s Defense Ministry said Turkey made no attempt to contact its bomber before firing. Russian President Vladimir Putin called the attack “a stab in the back from the accomplices of terrorism” and warned of “very serious consequences,” though he’s ruled out military retaliation against Turkey, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Lavrov said Russia wants to know if Turkey sought U.S. permission to attack its plane. He said the new Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told him during talks that lasted more than one hour Wednesday that the Russian jet violated Turkey’s airspace for 17 seconds. While his Turkish counterpart offered condolences, he also reserved the right to defend airspace violations, Lavrov said.
The downed Russian plane didn’t leave Syrian airspace and NATO covered up what Turkey did, Lavrov said. While Russia doesn’t intend to fight with Turkey, it has questions about the actions of the present Turkish leadership, he said.
Russia will reexamine the entire spectrum of its relations with Turkey because “we can’t leave what happened without a response,” Lavrov said.
Russia supports French President Francois Hollande’s proposal to close the Turkish-Syria border as a way to halt the flow of weapons, Lavrov said. Hollande held talks with U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday and is due to meet Putin in Moscow on Thursday as he seeks to forge an alliance against Islamic State after the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 130 people.
Terrorists use Turkish territory to carry out attacks in Syria and other countries, Lavrov said. Russia will ask the United Nations Security Council to discuss which states are backing terrorism in Syria, he said.