Putin signs Turkey sanctions decree
PRESIDENT Vladimir Putin signed a decree imposing a raft of punitive economic sanctions against Turkey on Saturday, underlining the depth of the Kremlin's anger towards Ankara four days after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane.
The decree, which entered into force immediately, said charter flights from Russia to Turkey would be banned, that tour firms would be told not to sell any holidays there, and that unspecified Turkish imports would be outlawed, and Turkish firms and nationals have their economic activities halted or curbed.
"The circumstances are unprecedented. The gauntlet thrown down to Russia is unprecedented. So naturally the reaction is in line with this threat," Dmitry Peskov, Mr Putin's spokesman, said hours before the decree was published.
A senior Turkish official told Reuters the sanctions would only worsen the stand-off between Moscow and Ankara.
But aides to Mr Putin say he is incandescent that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has yet to apologise for the Nov 24 incident near the Syrian-Turkish border in which one Russian pilot was killed along with a Russian marine who tried to rescue the crew of the downed Su-24 jet.
The body of the killed pilot was taken to Turkey late on Saturday to be handed over to Russia on Moscow's request, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said yesterday.
When asked about the sanctions, he said: "Turkey's relations with Russia is based on mutual benefit and common interests. Therefore, I urge the Russian authorities to take this into consideration and act in a cool-headed way."
Senior Russian officials have called the episode, one of the most serious publicly acknowledged clashes between a Nato member country and Russia for half a century, a pre-planned provocation.
Mr Erdogan has been equally robust. He has said Turkey will not apologise for downing the jet, saying Ankara was fully within its rights to defend its airspace. On Saturday, he appeared to soften his rhetoric a little, saying the episode had saddened him.
Mr Putin's spokesman suggested the Russian leader was ready for a long stand-off, however, saying he was "fully mobilised" to tackle what he regarded as an unprecedented threat from Turkey.
The decree, posted on the Kremlin's website, spoke of the need to protect Russia's national security and Russian citizens "from criminal and other illegal activities".
In it, Mr Putin ordered the government to prepare a list of goods, firms and jobs that would be affected. Some of the measures announced have already been informally introduced.
The government is expected to publish the list of banned imports today, Interfax news agency reported, citing a government source as saying. The list is likely to include food and some other products, a second government source said.
Turkey mainly sells food, agricultural products and textiles to Moscow and is also one of the most popular holiday destinations for Russians.
Mr Putin signed the decree days before a climate change summit in Paris. Mr Erdogan said earlier on Saturday it could be a chance to repair relations with Moscow.
"Confrontation will not bring anyone happiness. As much as Russia is important for Turkey, Turkey is important for Russia," he said in a televised speech.
Mr Peskov said Mr Putin was aware of a Turkish request for him to meet Mr Erdogan on the sidelines of the Paris conference but gave no indication of whether such a meeting would take place.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE