Vladimir Putin has said the killing of the Russian ambassador to Ankara is designed to spoil Russian-Turkish ties and intended to thwart Moscow’s attempts to find, with Iran and Turkey, a solution for the Syria crisis.
The Russian president said the ‘only response’ to the attack that Moscow ‘should offer’ is ‘stepping up the fight against terrorism,’ adding: “The killers will feel it.”
Putin said in a statement on Monday evening:
This murder is clearly a provocation aimed at undermining the improvement and normalization of Russian-Turkish relations, as well as undermining the peace process in Syria promoted by Russia, Turkey, Iran and other countries interested in settling the conflict in Syria.
Speaking at a special meeting in the Kremlin, Putin ordered security at Russia’s diplomatic missions abroad to be stepped up and said he wanted to know who had ‘directed’ the gunman’s hand, RT reports.
He praised the murdered Russian ambassador, Andrei Karlov, who was shot in the back and killed as he gave a speech at an Ankara art gallery, and made clear that Moscow’s response would be strongly felt.
Putin called Karlov a ‘brilliant diplomat, widely respected in the country where he was posted,’ adding the Russian diplomat ‘was in good standing with both the government of Turkey and other political groups in that country.’
The Russian president said he had agreed in a phone call with his Turkish counterpart President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Russian investigators would fly to Ankara to help with the investigation.
Meanwhile, Erdogan called the assassination a provocation aimed at destroying bilateral ties.
I believe this is an attack on Turkey, the Turkish state and the Turkish people, and also a clear provocation … [in terms of] Turkish-Russian relations. I am sure our Russian friends also see this fact. Both Turkey and Russia have the will not to be deceived by this provocation.
The Turkish leader also confirmed the identity of the attacker as 22-year-old Turkish riot police officer Mevlut Mert Altintas.