Russian president Vladimir Putin has launched a verbal attack on Turkey over the downing of a Russian combat jet last month, which resulted in the death of a pilot.
“The Turks”, he said, had “decided to lick the Americans in a certain place”.
Delivering his annual news conference, which lasted 3 hours and 10 minutes, Mr Putin – referring to his intervention in the Syrian civil war to fight against Islamic State – said that Russia did not see a new anti-terror coalition led by Saudi Arabia as hostile to its interests.
But he also said he did not understand the purpose of creating the new coalition as many of its members were already part of the US-led coalition against IS.
Nonetheless, he stressed that Russia has co-operated with Saudi Arabia despite their differences on the Syrian crisis, with the Saudis being hostile to President Bashar al-Assad’s Russian-backed regime.
He also touched on the recent criticism of his country’s hosting of the 2018 World Cup saying it honestly won the right to host the competition.
Asked to comment on the ongoing investigation into alleged corruption at the football governing body, Fifa, he said Russia had done nothing wrong. He has praised Fifa’s suspended president, Sepp Blatter, for his contribution to world soccer. And yesterday repeated his belief that Blatter deserves a Nobel Prize.
He added that Russia was committed to fighting doping in sports and would co-operate with international organisations on that. This came after the World Anti Doping-Agency accused Russia of systematic doping of its athletes and called for an international ban on Russian competitors.
Speaking at the televised news conference, Mr Putin said doping harms athletes and cheats must be punished.
At the same time, he said, athletes who were not involved in doping should not be punished alongside the rule breakers. Mr Putin said “Russia must and will be open for a joint fight with doping,” saying he will demand his sports officials fully co-operate with international structures.
He also spoke on eastern Ukraine and said Russia wanted a quick settlement of the conflict. He also said the Russian operation in Syria would continue until the Syrians call a halt. “We aren’t going to be more Syrian than the Syrians themselves,” he added.