Russian Su-34 bombers, additionally equipped with air-to-air missiles, have set out on their first mission in Syria, said Igor Klimov, spokesman for the Russian Air Force.
“Today, Russian Su-34 fighter-bombers have made their first sortie equipped not only with high explosive aviation bombs and hollow charge bombs, but also with short- and medium-range air-to-air missiles," Klimov said.
"The planes are equipped with missiles for defensive purposes," he added.
The missiles have target-seeking devices and are “capable of hitting air targets within a 60km radius,” he said.
President Vladimir Putin on Saturday signed a decree imposing a package of economic sanctions against Turkey. The measures include banning several Turkish organizations and the import of certain goods. Under the sanctions, the visa-free regime for Turkish nationals traveling to Russia will be suspended starting next year. The Russian government has also been tasked with introducing a ban on charter flights between Russia and Turkey and to enhance security control at Russian ports on the Sea of Azov and Black Sea.
On Thursday, Moscow recalled its military representative from Turkey. At the same time Russian Defense Ministry said that all channels of military cooperation with Ankara were suspended including a hotline set up to share information about Russian airstrikes in Syria.
A month ago, US and Russian military officials signed a memorandum of understanding that included steps their pilots should take to avoid an inadvertent clash over Syria as they carry out separate air strikes against armed groups. That MoU has now been shredded, as it certainly did not involve Russian fighter jets operating above Syria being armed with short and medium range air-to-air missiles as a direct threat to other fighter jets also operating above Syria - mostly those of Turkey, France and the US.
Which is precisely what Russia has done as disclosed in an announcement moments ago by the Russian defense ministry, and furthermore, has released a clip as a warning to not only Turkey, but all NATO forces in the region, that any further provocations at its jets will be met with an immediate and proportional response.
Igor Klimov, spokesman for the Russian Air Force, said that "today, Russian Su-34 fighter-bombers have made their first sortie equipped not only with high explosive aviation bombs and hollow charge bombs, but also with short- and medium-range air-to-air missiles The planes are equipped with missiles for defensive purposes."
Russia is now equipping its Su-34 fighters with air-to-air missiles in preparation for potential dogfights with NATO over Syria.
“Today, Russian Su-34 fighter-bombers have made their first sortie equipped not only with high explosive aviation bombs and hollow charge bombs, but also with short- and medium-range air-to-air missiles,” Russian Air Force spokesman Igor Klimov told RT. “The planes are equipped with missiles for defensive purposes.”
He also added the missiles are “capable of hitting air targets within a 60km radius.”
It’s obvious that Russia is not equipping its jets with air-to-air missiles to fight ground-based ISIS militants but rather to prevent Turkish F-16s from shooting down more of its planes.
“In the wake of the downing, President Vladimir Putin on Saturday signed a decree imposing a package of economic sanctions against Turkey,” RT reported. “The measures include banning several Turkish organizations and the import of certain goods.”
“Under the sanctions, the visa-free regime for Turkish nationals traveling to Russia will be suspended starting next year.”
Turkey responded by reportedly blocking Russian ships from passing through the Strait of Bosphorus linking the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, which prevents Russia’s Black Sea fleet from traveling to the rest of the world or even back to its home port.
But Putin has also ordered 150,000 Russian troops deployed into Syria while also sending another 7,000 Russian troops with tanks, rocket launchers and artillery to the Turkish border at Armenia with orders to be “fully combat ready.”
Even though Turkey initiated its stand-off with Russia by intentionally shooting down the Su-24 near the Syrian border, it could potentially invoke Article 5 of the NATO Treaty which requires all NATO members, including the U.S., to come to its defense if Turkey goes to war with Russi
Russia has received additional intelligence confirming that oil from deposits controlled by Islamic State is moved through Turkey on an industrial scale, said Vladimir Putin. President Recep Erdogan said he will resign if this is confirmed.
Moscow has grounds to suspect that the Su-24 was downed by Turkish jets on November 24 to secure illegal oil deliveries from Syria to Turkey, he said speaking on the sidelines of the climate change summit in Paris on Monday.
“At the moment we have received additional information confirming that that oil from the deposits controlled by Islamic State militants enters Turkish territory on industrial scale,” he said.
“We have every reason to believe that the decision to down our plane was guided by a desire to ensure security of this oil’s delivery routes to ports where they are shipped in tankers,” Putin said.
Speaking in Paris on Monday, President Recep Erdogan said that he will leave office if there is proof of Turkey’s cooperation with IS.
“We are not that dishonest as to buy oil from terrorists. If it is proven that we have, in fact, done so, I will leave office. If there is any evidence, let them present it, we’ll consider [it],” he said, as quoted by TASS.
The countries from which Turkey buys oil are “well known,” said Erdogan.
He called on Russia to comment on the US’ recent black-listing of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the World Chess Federation President, accusing him of “materially assisting and acting for or on behalf of the Government of Syria.” Erdogan alleged Ilyumzhinov had been dealing with Islamic State oil.
Terrorists have been abusing the visa-free regime between Russia and Turkey to move freely, the Russian leader said adding that Ankara failed to address the issue after Russia raised it.
“We have been asking [Ankara] for a long time to pay attention” to the threat posed by some terrorists active in separate regions of Russia, including the northern Caucuses, that have been “emerging on Turkish territory,” Putin said.
Moscow has asked Ankara to “stop this practice,” he added, but pointed out that “we have traced some located on the territory of the Turkish Republic and living in regions guarded by special security services and police that have used the visa-free regime to return to our territory, where we continue to fight them,” he added.
Answering a question as to whether Moscow wants to form a broad based anti-terrorist coalition, Putin said Russia has always supported this initiative, “but this cannot be done while someone continues to use several terrorist organizations to reach their immediate goals.”
Putin admitted that he was personally saddened by the deterioration of relations with Turkey. He explained that “problems do exist and they emerged a long time ago and we have been trying to resolve them in dialogue with our Turkish partners.”
Putin said he has heard Ankara’s claims that it was not Erdogan who made the decision to down the Russian jet. However, he stressed that for Russia “it doesn’t really matter” which official made the decision.
“As a result of this criminal campaign our two soldiers died – a crew commander and a marine, who was part of the rescue team of the [Su-24] crew,” he said, adding that Turkey’s actions had been “a huge mistake.”
“I’ve shown photos taken from space and from aircraft which clearly demonstrate the scale of the illegal trade in oil and petroleum products,” Vladimir Putin told reporters earlier this month on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Antalya. Putin was of course referencing Islamic State’s illicit and highly lucrative oil trade, the ins and outs of which we’ve documented extensively over the past two weeks:
Turkey’s move to shoot down a Russian Su-24 warplane near the Syrian border afforded the Russian President all the motivation and PR cover he needed to expose Ankara’s alleged role in the trafficking of illegal crude from Iraq and Syria and in the aftermath of last Tuesday’s “incident,” Putin lambasted Erdogan. “Oil from Islamic State is being shipped to Turkey,” Putin said while in Jordan for a meeting with King Abdullah. In case that wasn’t clear enough, Putin added this: “Islamic State gets cash by selling oil to Turkey.”
Some believe Erdogan’s son Bilal - who owns a marine transport company called BMZ Group - is heavily involved in the trafficking of Kurdish and ISIS crude. Most of the ships BMZ owns are Malta-flagged.
In light of the above, some have speculated that Turkey shot down the Su-24 in retaliation for Russia’s bombing campaign that recently has destroyed over 1,000 ISIS oil trucks. Here’s what Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoub said on Friday:
“All of the oil was delivered to a company that belongs to the son of Recep [Tayyip] Erdogan. This is why Turkey became anxious when Russia began delivering airstrikes against the IS infrastructure and destroyed more than 500 trucks with oil already. This really got on Erdogan and his company’s nerves. They’re importing not only oil, but wheat and historic artefacts as well."
“In the last eight months ISIS has managed to sell ... $800 million dollars worth of oil on the black market of Turkey. This is Iraqi oil and Syrian oil, carried by trucks from Iraq, from Syria through the borders to Turkey and sold ...[at] less than 50 percent of the international oil price."
On Monday, Putin was back at it, saying that Russia has obtained new information that further implicates Turkey in the Islamic State oil trade. “At the moment we have received additional information confirming that that oil from the deposits controlled by Islamic State militants enters Turkish territory on industrial scale," Putin said on the sidelines of the climate change summit in Paris. "We have traced some located on the territory of the Turkish Republic and living in regions guarded by special security services and police that have used the visa-free regime to return to our territory, where we continue to fight them."
"We have every reason to believe that the decision to down our plane was guided by a desire to ensure security of this oil’s delivery routes to ports where they are shipped in tankers," he added, taking it up another notch still.
The real question is how NATO will react now that Turkey is quickly becoming a liability. Furthermore, you can be sure that the US, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar (who are all heavily invested in the Sunni extremist cause in Syria), are getting nervous. No one wants to see this blown wide open as that would mean the Western public getting wise to the fact that it is indeed anti-ISIS coalition governments that are funding and arming not only ISIS, but also al-Nusra and every other rebel group fighting to wrest control of the country from Assad. Worse, if it gets out that the reason the US has refrained from bombing ISIS oil trucks until now is due to the fact that Ankara and Washington had an understanding when it comes to the flow of illicit crude to Cehyan, the American public may just insist on indicting "some folks."
Remember, when it comes to criminal conspiracies, the guy who gets caught first usually ends up getting cut loose. It will be interesing to see if Erdogan starts to get the cold shoulder from Ankara's "allies" going forward.