Leonid Reshetnikov, head of official Russian Federation think tank the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS), has claimed there were enemies of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan behind the downing of a Russian jet in November 2015, adding that US soldiers at İncirlik Air Base also assisted in the shooting down of the jet.
Speaking to the Hürriyet daily for an interview in its Monday edition, Reshetnikov said: “There are some circles who are against the improvement of Turkish-Russian relations. They are either related to the US or to the Gülen organization. We could say this: According to us, those who played a role in the downing of the Russian jet were first Erdoğan’s enemies, and they were at the same time linked to the US. We have evidence showing the participation of US soldiers at İncirlik in this incident. The goal was to cause a rift between Turkey and Russia.”
The incident had sparked diplomatic and economic crises between the two countries. Russia imposed a number of sanctions on Turkey in response to the incident. After seven months of tension, Erdoğan apologized in June to Russian President Vladimir Putin in a letter.
Reshetnikov’s remarks contradicted earlier statements made by Turkey’s then-Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Erdoğan about who gave the order for the downing of the Russian jet due to its violation of Turkish airspace on Nov. 24, 2015.
On Nov. 25, 2015, then-Prime Minister Davutoglu said in front of the camera that he had authorized shooting down the Russian plane. He said he himself had given the order directly to the armed forces.
Speaking about the jet crisis, President Erdoğan on Nov. 26, 2015 had said that “if a similar violation were to be committed today, the response would be the same.”
Months after the incident, when the government stepped up a war it launched against the faith-based Gülen movement after the eruption of a corruption scandal in late 2013, some government figures began to put the blame on the Gülen movement for the shooting down of the Russian jet.