VLADIMIR Putin has accused the US of leaking the flight plan of a Russian bomber that was shot down by the Turkish air force, The Sun reports. Russia said it shared the planned route of the Su-24 with the Pentagon under a deal to avoid mid-air clashes over Syria. The Kremlin hardman said: “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.”
Putin also threatened to stop cooperating with US-led coalition in the fight against IS if there was another attempt to down one of his planes. It came as pictures emerged of S-400 missile launchers being unloaded at Russia’s base 30 miles from the Turkish border in Syria’s coastal Latakia province. The advanced air defence weapons have a range of up to 250 miles and can reach well inside Turkey and even to the RAF’s base in Cyprus.
Britain’s Top Guns could be in action over Syria as early as next week after David Cameron put the case in the Commons for direct action to crush IS. Putin said of the deployment: “We are our establishing our system S-400 which is capable of long range strikes and it is one of the most effective systems of this type in the world.
“We did not have those systems in Syria because we believed that our airforce was working at an altitude which would not be reachable by terrorists. “We did not think we could receive a strike from a party that we thought to be our partner. “If we thought of this before, we would have established the systems capable to protect our aircraft.
“The reason we didn’t do this is because we thought Turkey to be a friendly country.” One pilot was shot dead by rebels after ejecting from the flaming Su-24 and a marine was killed on a mission to rescue the other airman. Mr Putin again called the downing of the jet a “betrayal” in a joint press conference with French president Francois Holande at the Kremlin.
He said: “We are ready to cooperate with the coalition which is led by the United States. But of course incidents like the destruction of our aircraft and the deaths of our servicemen are absolutely unacceptable .“And we proceed from the position that there will be no repeat of this, otherwise we’ll have no need of cooperation with anybody, any coalition, any country.”
Hollande was in Moscow to build support for a united front against the IS menace following the massacre of 130 people in Paris on November 13. Russia also lost 224 when a holiday jet was bombed from the sky over the Sinai desert last month. The two leaders said they had agreed to greater cooperation and Russia would avoid bombing rebels in areas on a map drawn up by the French.
Mr Putin said: “We will exchange information about which territories are occupied by the healthy part of the opposition rather than terrorists, and will avoid targeting them with our airstrikes.” The downed jet was on a raid targeting an area held by the Turkmen minority in Syria. They are backed by Turkey but are fighting against Putin’s ally Bashar al-Assad in the bloody civil war.
Turkey had demanded Russia stop bombing Turkmen fighters before the plane was shot down.