News World ‘No prospect’ of improved Turkey relations: Putin

‘No prospect’ of improved Turkey relations: Putin

Vladimir Putin
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Russian president Vladimir Putin says he “sees no prospect” of improving relations with the current leadership of Turkey after it downed a Russian jet last month.

“It is hard for us to reach agreement with the current Turkish leadership, if at all possible,” Mr Putin said during his annual news conference.

Mr Putin said the downing of the Russian warplane was “an act of enmity” and he did not understand why Turkey did it.

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“What have they achieved? Maybe, they thought that we would run away from there (Syria)? But Russia is not such a country.”

Russia has been carrying out air strikes near the Turkish border in war-ravaged Syria at the request of President Bashar al-Assad since the end of September, while a US-led coalition is conducting its own campaign targeting the Islamic State (IS) group.

Addressing the packed news conference, Mr Putin said Russia supports a US-backed draft resolution aimed at ramping up sanctions against the Islamic State group and cutting off its revenue flows.

“We support an initiative by the United States including on the preparation of a UN Security Council resolution on Syria,” Mr Putin said, adding he had discussed the draft resolution with US Secretary of State John Kerry earlier this week.

“On the whole it suits us,” he told reporters.

“We believe that on the whole it’s an acceptable proposal although some things still need to be worked out.”

Mr Putin also used his annual address to described US Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump as a talented and outstanding man, welcoming his stance on Russia.

“He is a very outstanding man, unquestionably talented,” Mr Putin said.

“It’s not up to us to judge his virtue, that is up to US voters, but he is the absolute leader of the presidential race,” he added.

Mr Putin said Russia was ready to work with the United States no matter who was elected president next year.

“We are ready to work with any president chosen by the American people.”

Syria crisis requires ‘concessions on both sides’

He added that he believed the Syrian authorities would also accept the draft resolution urging both sides to compromise.

But Mr Putin said he would never agree to any outside force deciding on who should rule Syria and added there was no way to resolve the Syria crisis other than a political solution.

The US strongly maintains that Mr Assad must leave in order to solve the Syria crisis, whereas Russia has insisted he should stay to prevent a potential power vacuum.

“Concessions should be done on both sides,” he said, stressing Russia’s readiness to help settle the crisis.

He urged joint work on Syria’s new constitution, adding a “transparent” mechanism was needed that will help Syrians conduct democratic elections and elect a leader.

“We believe that only the Syrian people can decide who should govern them,” he said.

However, in the fight against extremism, Mr Putin said it was no longer certain that Russia maintains a permanent military base in Syria, because Moscow possesses weapons powerful enough “to hit anyone” thousands of kilometres beyond Russia’s borders.

Russia has been accused of targeting anti-Assad rebel forces, rather than IS.

Mr Putin reiterated that Russia has been providing support to the armed opposition groups that are fighting the Islamic State group.

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