Vladimir Putin Calls For ‘Powerful Fist’ to Fight Terrorism

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Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin called Thursday for “one powerful fist” to fight terrorism, hinted at more sanctions against Turkey and accused Western powers of creating “a zone of chaos.”

Speaking in his state-of-the-nation address televised live, Putin called for an end to what he called double standards that hampered uniting global efforts in fighting terrorism. Without naming the United States, he accused Washington and its allies of turning Iraq, Syria and Libya into a “zone of chaos and anarchy threatening the entire world” by supporting change of regimes in those countries.

Putin didn’t address efforts to start a peace process in Syria in his speech, focusing on the need to pool global efforts in the fight against terrorism following the attacks in Paris and the downing of a Russian passenger plane in Egypt. The IS has claimed responsibility for both.

“We must leave all arguments and disagreements behind and make one powerful fist, a single anti-terror front, which would work on the basis of international law under the aegis of the United Nations,” he said, addressing lawmakers and top officials who had gathered in an ornate Kremlin hall.

That means no shelter to bandits, no double standards, no contacts whatsoever with any terrorist organizations, no attempts to use them for some selfish goals, no criminal, bloody business with terrorists.

Putin specifically targeted Turkey, accusing it of “allowing terrorists to earn money by selling oil stolen from Syria.” “For that money the bandits are recruiting mercenaries, buying weapons and staging cruel terror attacks aimed against our citizens, as well as citizens of France, Lebanon, Mali and other countries,” he said.

He accused Turkey of a “treacherous war crime” in downing a Russian warplane at the border with Syria. “Allah must have punished Turkey’s ruling clique by depriving it of sense and reason,” Putin said.

Turkey said the plane violated its airspace for 17 seconds despite repeated warnings; Russia denies that. The shoot-down, the first time a NATO country has downed a Russian plane in more than half a century, triggered a bitter falling out between the two nations, which had developed robust economic ties.

Moscow deployed long-range air defense missile systems to its base in Syria 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of the border with Turkey and slammed an array of economic sanctions on Turkey, including a ban on imports of fruit and vegetables and the sales of tour packages.

“We will remind them not just once about what they have done, and they will feel sorry about it more than just once,” Putin said without spelling out what other actions Russia may take.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said Thursday that talks with Turkey on building a pipeline that would allow Russia to export natural gas to the European Union through Turkey have been halted.

The Turkish and Russian foreign ministers met on the sidelines of an Organization for Security and Cooperation meeting in Serbia’s capital, Belgrade, on Thursday, a Turkish Foreign Ministry official said on condition of anonymity because of government rules that bar officials from speaking to reporters without prior authorization. It was the first meeting at a senior level between the two countries since the plane’s downing.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vehemently denied that his country was involved in oil trade with the IS, and has pledged to step down if Moscow proves its accusations. The Russian Defense Ministry on Wednesday released an array of satellite and aerial images which it said show hundreds of oil trucks streaming across the border. The ministry insisted that the images definitively prove Turkey’s massive oil trade with the IS.

Top Defense Ministry officials also accused Erdogan and his family of personally benefiting from the oil trade with the IS, although they didn’t provide any evidence to back the claim.

Erdogan on Thursday claimed that the largest dealer for the IS oil is a Syrian who also has a Russian passport. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, speaking in Baku, Azerbaijan, urged Putin to tone down his language.

Moscow has said that its warplanes have been targeting terrorist groups near Syria’s border with Turkey, while Ankara has said the Russian raids have been aimed at moderate militant groups made of ethnic Turks who oppose Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime. The militants shot and killed the downed plane’s pilot while he was descending on parachute and also killed a Russian marine who was involved in rescuing the plane’s co-pilot.

Following Monday’s meeting with President Barack Obama on the sidelines of a climate summit in Paris, Putin said they have a shared understanding on how to move toward a political settlement in Syria and discussed efforts to compile a list of extremist groups and another one of members of legitimate political opposition.

IS on Wednesday released a video in which a Russian-speaking man identifies himself as Magomed Khasayev, confesses to spying for Russian intelligence and then is shown apparently being beheaded by another Russian-speaking man.

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