Vladimir Putin has warned that he is prepared to go to war following Turkey’s decision to scramble 12 fighter jets on Wednesday.
In a clear act of provocation, Turkey scrambled the F-16 fighter jets in defiance to heightened tensions with Moscow. The jets took off from Eskisehir Air Base just one day after Russian ambassador Andrei Karlov was shot dead by Turkish police officer Mevlut Mert Altintas.
Moscow responded with fury, with a spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry saying it regarded the assassination as an “act of terrorism”.
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is understood to have made a panicked phone call to Vladimir Putin in the wake of the murder.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which is said to have been motivated by Russia’s intervention in war-torn Syria.
The killer, who was smartly dressed in a suit and tie and fired multiple shots, shouted in Turkish: “Don’t forget Aleppo! Don’t forget Syria!”
He also shouted “Allahu akbar,” the Arabic phrase for “God is great”.
After shooting the ambassador, the gunman climbed to the second floor of the same building and was killed by police after a 15-minute shoot-out.
Mr Putin said Karlov’s murder was a “provocation aimed at derailing Russia-Turkey ties and the peace process in Syria”.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev vowed to take revenge against the group responsible, sauing: “Russia will not leave it unpunished.”
And Mr Erdogan told Turkish state TV: “This is a provocation to damage the normalisation process of Turkish-Russian relations.”
Relations between Moscow and Ankara have long been strained over the conflict in Syria, with the two support opposing sides in the war.
Russia is an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and its air strikes helped Syrian forces end rebel resistance last week in Aleppo.
Turkey wants Assad to be ousted – regarding him as a brutal tryant – and supports several large rebel groups in the country.