Answers to journalists’ questions following the crash of a Russian military plane in Syria
Question: Yesterday, the Foreign Ministry gave the recommendation that Russian tourists should not travel to Turkey. What is your view on this recommendation, given that hundreds of Russians are holidaying in Turkey?
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: We don’t have much choice. After such a tragic event as the downing of our plane and death of our pilot, we have no choice but to take such measures. The Foreign Ministry is right to warn our citizens about the dangers.
You see, the problem goes beyond the tragedy that happened yesterday. It is a much deeper problem. We see, and not only we, but people all around the world see that Turkey’s current government has been following a domestic policy of quite conscious Islamicisation throughout the country for a number of years now.
Islam is one of the world’s great religions and it is one of Russia’s traditional religions. We support Islam and will continue to do so. But the problem here is one of support for more radical currents, which creates an unfavourable environment that is not so evident at first glance.
After what happened yesterday, we cannot rule out the possibility of other incidents. If such incidents happen, we will have to respond one way or another. Our citizens in Turkey could face substantial risks, of course, and the Foreign Ministry has a duty to say this.
Question: Mr President, are the measures the Defence Ministry announced yesterday enough to ensure the safety of our military personnel in Syria?
And a second question: Everyone is worried now about the fate of the Su-24’s second pilot. Is there any information on his fate?
Vladimir Putin: Yes, the navigator, he has been rescued. I think he is at our base now, at the airfield. Like everyone else who took part in this operation, including the rescue operation, he will receive state decorations. The Defence Ministry has already made this proposal. The plane’s captain will be awarded the Gold Star Medal of the Hero of the Russian Federation posthumously.
As for measures to ensure the safety of our military flights in Syria, the proposals announced yesterday are not enough. I discussed this just this morning with the Defence Ministry heads. We will deploy an S-300 air defence system at our air force base in Syria. This is not the only measure we are taking. I hope that this measure, together with our other steps, will be sufficient to ensure the safety of our flights.
I want to say that we take a very serious view of what has happened, and we will use all possible means to ensure safety.