Vladimir Putin warns of 'serious consequences' following Turkey shooting down Russian jet

“Our pilots and our plane never threatened Turkey in any way - this was an obvious fact. They were conducting an operation to fight Isis”

Vladimir Putin has said there will be “serious consequences” to Turkey’s shooting down of a Russian fighter jet.

The Russian President repeated his military’s claim that the Su-24 plane was inside Syrian borders but Ankara has insisted it violated Turkish airspace and ignored repeated warnings.

“Today’s loss is a stab in the back by the accomplices of terrorists,” Mr Putin told a press conference as he hosted King Abdullah of Jordan in Sochi.

Russian jet downed

He claimed the plane was flying at an altitude of 6,000m when it was shot down by a Turkish F-16 warplane and fell in Syrian territory several kilometres away from the border.

“Our pilots and our plane never threatened Turkey in any way - this was an obvious fact. They were conducting an operation to fight Isis,” The Russian President said.

“Today's tragic event will have serious consequences for Russian-Turkish relations. 

“We have always treated Turkey not only as a close neighbour but as a friendly state. 

“I don't know in whose interests today's incident is but it's not in our interest.”

Mr Putin also hit out at Turkey for immediately calling a meeting with Nato “as if Russia just downed a Turkish jet”.

The North Atlantic Council were due to meet in Brussels over the incident later on Tuesday and Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, told MPs Britain was urgently seeking further details from both the Turkish and Russian government.

Mr Putin inferred that Turkey was supporting Isis by giving militants its indirect “protection”, allowing it to commit the Paris attacks and other atrocities.

He asked if Turkey wants “Nato to serve the interests of Isis” before calling on the international community to “unite against a common evil”.

The incident came hours before Francois Hollande was due to meet Barack Obama in Washington as part of his push for a wider coalition against Isis in Iraq and Syria following the Paris attack.

The French President was due to urge his US counterpart to support Russia’s inclusion in the alliance but the dispute with Turkey, a Nato member and part of the US-led coalition, makes that less likely than ever.

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The incident came as Francois Hollande prepared to push for greater international co-operation against Isis

Mr Hollande is then due to travel to Moscow to meet Mr Putin, while there is speculation that the Russian foreign minister’s planned trip to Ankara on Wednesday could be cancelled.

There has been no official confirmation of the fate of the two pilots on board the Russian plane, although a video appeared to show them ejecting.

Footage posted online by an anti-Assad rebel group claimed to show the dead body of one pilot and unconfirmed reports said the second man was also found dead in the Turkmen mountains.

A Russian helicopter searching for the airmen was also shot at with a missile and forced to make an emergency landing.

Jahed Ahmad of the 10th Brigade in the Coast, a group affiliated with the US-backed Free Syrian Army, said his group would consider exchanging the body of the Russian pilot they are holding with prisoners held by the Syrian government. 

“This is the body of a Russian member of the military who was killing Syrian people,” he said. “We have the body and we will see what to do with it.” 

Additional reporting by agencies

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