Sunday, November 29th, 2015 at 2:09am

Putin orders sanctions against Turkey over jet downing

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a series of economic sanctions against Turkey following the downing of Russian figher jet by Turkish forces earlier this week.

A decree published on the Kremlin’s website on Saturday came hours after Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan voiced “sadness” over the incident, saying he wished it had not happened.

Putin’s decree included a ban on some unspecified goods and forbid extensions of labour contracts for Turks working in Russia as of January 1.

It  also calls for ending chartered flights from Russia to Turkey and for Russian tourism companies to stop selling vacation packages that would include a stay in Turkey.

Earlier in the week, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev had ordered his cabinet to put together a list of goods to be sanctioned.

Putin’s decree also calls for ending visa-free travel between Russia and Turkey and orders the tightening of control over Turkish air carriers in Russia “for security reasons.”

The decree was issued “to protect Russian citizens from crimes,” a Kremlin statement said.

Earlier on Saturday, Erdogan had again defended Turkey’s actions and criticised Russia for its moves in Syria before expressing his regrets.

“We wish it hadn’t happened, but it happened. I hope something like this doesn’t happen again,” Erdogan told a crowd of supporters.

The Turkish president added that both sides should approach the issue in a more positive way, and renewed a call for a meeting with Putin on the sidelines of the UN’s climate change conference in Paris that starts on Monday.

Travel warning

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said it issued the warning because Turkish travellers were facing “problems” in Russia. It said Turks should delay travel plans until “the situation becomes clear”.

Turkey’s downing of the Russian military jet on Tuesday – the first time in half a century that a NATO member has shot down a Russian plane – has drawn a harsh response from Moscow, which Erdogan has dismissed as emotional and indecorous.

Moscow has since restricted tourist travel, left Turkish trucks stranded at the border, confiscated large quantities of Turkish food imports.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov, a close confidant of Putin, accused Turkey of having manipulated the evidence of Tuesday’s incident.

The Russian Su-24 bomber had not crossed Turkish airspace as Ankara claimed, Peskov said, adding the map presented by Turkey to show that it did was manipulated.

‘Playing with fire’

Erdogan told supporters during a speech in Bayburt in northeast Turkey on Friday that Russia “is playing with fire to go as far as mistreating our citizens who have gone to Russia”.

“We really attach a lot of importance to our relations with Russia … We don’t want these relations to suffer harm in any way.”

RELATED: Russia raids Turkish firms, sends imports back

Putin has so far refused to talk to Erdogan because Ankara has not yet apologised for the downing of the jet, a Putin aide said.

Erdogan has said Turkey deserves the apology because its airspace was violated.

The nearly five-year-old Syrian civil war has been complicated by Russian air strikes in defence of President Bashar al-Assad.

Turkey and regional powers have accused Russia of targeting moderate armed groups fighting Assad.

The frayed relations could also impact two major planned projects – a TurkStream gas pipeline and the Akkuyu nuclear power plant – between the two countries.

Turkey and Russia have also sparred over the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group, with each side accusing the other of being soft on “terrorism”.

Source: AP

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