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Putin repeats firm stance on warplane downing, support for Assad

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Turkey’s downing of the Russian Su-24 warplane is a hostile action and reaffirmed Russia’s support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“Russia didn’t see any attempts by the Turkish leadership to restore the relationship (with Russia). Current Turkish leadership is almost impossible to negotiate, or to interact at international level,” Putin said during his annual year-end press conference.

He accused Ankara of hiding behind NATO after Turkey shot down the warplane on Nov. 24 over alleged airspace violation.

On the Syrian crisis, Putin reaffirmed Russia’s support to the Assad government, noting that Russia would strive to reach decisions that would please all conflicting sides in Syria.

“Russia’s plans for settling Syrian crisis coincide on key issues with the U.S. ones,” Putin said.

The president again denied the presence of Russian troops in Ukraine, predicting that Russia-Ukraine economic relations would deteriorate as from Jan. 1, 2016 when the Ukraine-EU free trade regime starts.

He said that Moscow had tried to maintain economic relations with Kiev and that Russia is interested in the swift settlement of conflicts in eastern Ukraine through open and honest dialogue.

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