[Vladimir Putin says Turkey shot down a Russian plane so it could protect its oil trade with the Islamic State (SEE: The Rhetoric Over a Downed Plane).]
“President Obama says Turkey and Russia should work together to defeat the Islamic State.”
Russia denied the plane was in Syrian airspace, demanded an apology, and announced measures, including economic steps, against Turkey. On Monday, a U.S. State Department spokeswoman said the U.S. had independently verified the plane had crossed into Syrian airspace.
The dispute has led to acrimonious rhetoric from Turkish and Russian leaders. On Monday, Turkey refused to apologize for the incident, calling it a “defensive action.” Putin responded saying Turkey shot the plane down so it could protect its oil trade with the Islamic State. Erdogan strongly denied that accusation, calling it slanderous and saying he would resign if the claim could be proven.
On Tuesday, the Turkish leader sounded more conciliatory.
“Our concern is to not come out badly from this, but on the contrary to turn this into peace and contribute to the peace in the region,” he said.
The tensions are hobbling efforts to put together a global coalition against the Islamic State following the November 13 attacks in Paris. Russia and the West, including Turkey, are ostensibly both fighting the Islamic State, but that’s where their aims in Syria begin to diverge.
Putin is an ally of Assad, and its planes are bombing rebels, including those supported by the West and Turkey. The West is carrying out its own military strikes, directed mainly at the Islamic State, and French President Francois Hollande has been pushing for a more concerted effort after the Paris attacks that killed 130 people. But disputes such as the downed plane and what will happen to Assad after the Syrian civil war are hampering the diplomacy.
On Tuesday, Germany’s Cabinet approved sending 1,200 troops, a naval frigate, and reconnaissance flights to fight against the Islamic State. The move needs parliamentary approval, which is expected Wednesday. Britain’s Cabinet also approved its own efforts against the Islamic State on Wednesday. A parliamentary debate is scheduled for Wednesday.