Vladimir Putin targets Turkey first, terror second in state-of-Russia speech

December 3, 2015
Honour guards stand at attention during the funeral ceremony of Oleg Peshkov, a Russian pilot of the downed SU-24 jet, at a cemetery in Lipetsk, Russia, December 2, 2015. Peshkov was awarded the Hero of Russia award posthumously. REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX1WTKJ

Honor guards stand at attention during the funeral ceremony of Oleg Peshkov, one of the pilots of the downed Russian SU-24 jet, at a cemetery in Lipetsk, Russia, December 2, 2015. Peshkov was awarded the Hero of Russia award posthumously. REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev

On Thursday at high noon, Vladimir Putin bounded out of two gigantic golden doors into the Kremlin’s glittering St. George’s Hall, where Russia’s top 1,000 officials were waiting for their president to diagnose the state of the nation in an annual address.

Russia is in a war with terrorists that can only be won by joining with the other great powers of the world, Putin said. The treachery of false friends will never be forgotten. Only united will the nation overcome the challenges at hand.

“For a long time, Russia has been on the front line of the fight against terror. It’s a fight for freedom, truth, and justice — for the lives of our people and the future of all civilization,” he said. “In the fight against terrorism, Russia has demonstrated the utmost responsibility and leadership.”

Putin repeated his proposition for a global coalition against Islamic State that he first made at the United Nations in September. He railed against Turkey for shooting down a Russian warplane near the Syrian border last week, warning that the Kremlin’s response to the “heinous war crime” wouldn’t be limited to an embargo on Turkish tomatoes or construction companies.

Little in the president’s speech was new or surprising. What was telling were the things he chose not to say.

If his last address to the nation was all about Russia’s glorious annexation of Crimea and its never-ending struggle against American hegemony, this year Putin didn’t mention Ukraine a single time.

The widows of the two Russian servicemen killed during the shoot-down incident were present in the audience, and Putin acknowledged their sacrifice with a moment of silence. In contrast, the Russian soldiers killed in the Kremlin’s covert war in eastern Ukraine never received any official recognition.

From Putin’s point of view, the dismemberment of Ukraine is no longer a priority. Riven by infighting and increasingly unpopular, the pro-Western government in Kiev may self-destruct all on its own. An eastern sliver of the country is firmly under the control of Russian-backed separatists. And if the Kremlin can appear to be an invaluable partner in fighting Islamic State, European countries may find it more difficult to renew sanctions imposed because Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.

In the speech, Putin poked the Americans in the eye only once, making an indirect reference to the United States as the instigator of the mayhem that has broken loose over the greater Middle East. “We know why that happened,” he said. “We know who wanted to replace objectionable regimes, brutally imposing their own rules.”

Even NATO’s invitation to Montenegro to join the alliance this week couldn’t provoke Putin. It’s hard to be at war with Western civilization when you’re also claiming to save it.

While Putin described the main enemy as “international terrorism,” he uttered “Islamic State” not once, nor any of the group’s other names. A casual listener could have been excused for concluding that the real enemy is Turkey.

Putin only made a passing reference to the Russian passenger plane that blew up over Egypt in October, killing all 224 people on board in an attack for which Islamic State claimed responsibility. He also made no mention of an Islamic State video that purportedly shows the beheading of “a Russian spy.”

Instead, Putin focused his wrath on Turkey, blaming its “ruling clique” for shooting the Russian airmen in the back. “We know who in Turkey is stuffing their pockets and is letting terrorists prosper from selling oil they stole in Syria,” he said. On Wednesday, Russia’s defense ministry said it had proof that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his family were benefiting from Islamic State’s shadowy oil trade.

Putin said that any disagreements could have been settled through peaceful means, implying that if Turkey hadn’t shot down the warplane, the Kremlin wouldn’t be making such a hullabaloo about oil deals with terrorists. “Only Allah knows why they did it,” Putin said to applause.

After hailing Russia’s fight against evil in the world, Putin turned his attention to the more mundane business of running a petro-economy at a time of low oil prices and Western sanctions. “The situation is in fact difficult,” the president said. “But as I’ve said before, it’s not critical.”

He then listed a number of measures to reform the economy that may very well have been lifted from a speech he gave 10 years ago: ending dependence on natural resources, fighting corruption, improving the investment climate. There’s now a free-trade zone with Vietnam, Putin said proudly. Russia should become the world’s largest exporter of “healthy, ecologically pure foods,” he suggested.

As Putin droned on into the second half hour of his speech, state-run Channel One showed numerous officials in the audience with shut eyes. Nobody dared tap out a text message or whisper to a neighbor. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov fought off fatigue by making his eyes as round as saucers. One man scratched his ears with both hands.

Russians interested in the true state of the nation were wondering if Putin would address a growing protest by truck drivers incensed about a new toll. Nothing.

Muckraking anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny on Tuesday published a detailed investigation accusing Prosecutor General Yury Chaika’s family of links to the mob. Also nothing — though Channel One zoomed in on a stone-faced Chaika as Putin lectured on the need for officials to disclose income and property.

Everybody in St. George’s Hall was forced to listen to the czar’s tales, even though they hardly described the challenges facing Russia today. Putin’s speech was an exercise in self-hypnosis by an autocracy incapable of rejuvenating itself. Last year it was fighting fascists and NATO legions, this year terrorists and their accomplices. Next year there will have to be a new enemy.

33 comments

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Good report! Really intuitive of a smoke and mirror show!

Posted by Nextdoor | Report as abusive

The bile Lucian Kim spouts every time he writes an article about Russia / Putin is becoming so boring. Does he not understand that people can see through the hate and as such just disregard his comments. His opening line just sums up his attitude towards Russia.

Posted by Moties001 | Report as abusive

LUCIAN ARE YOU JOURNALIST OR AN OPINIONATED MOTHER THERESA!

Posted by KKKM | Report as abusive

I think the article is just a tiny bit tendentious. But, never mind.

Posted by JohJac | Report as abusive

Russian bomber pilots violating Turkish sovereign airspace acting like pirates surely had orders to act the way they did, ultimately from Commander-in-Chief.
Turkey gave more honors to Russian pilot that Russia gave to its troops Putin sent to die in Ukraine. Or to the crew of sunk submarine.
Putin is the greatest of all national embarrassment Russia deserves.

Posted by NV1 | Report as abusive

200 civilian passengers lost by IS terrorist action apparently mean nothing to Putin. But for losing ONE of his cherished rogue pilot boys (he calls them “my rowdys”) he seems willing to go to war with the Turks. Actually, Putin’s cowboy pilots have transgressed international borders many times, for instance those of Britain and elsewhere in Europe, and only last week they violated Israel’s borders again.

Posted by pbgd | Report as abusive

Turkey knows perfectly well what’s going along its border with Syria. They know everything about Daesh movements but still Erdogan did nothing to stop them or at least to start a fight with them. I see only one explanation – Erdogan makes business with Daesh. Of course taking down of Russian warplane was Erdogan’s big mistake and all his explanations make no sense. But NATO members can’t afford making such mistakes because they put the world on the brink of war. Accepting Turkey, a Muslim country, to NATO was also a big mistake because Erdogan uses NATO as leverage in his relations with the rest of the world. Excluding Turkey from NATO would be a great step because Erdogan implements policy of Islamization and I can hardly imagine what provocations involving NATO he will use in the future.

Posted by PLinden | Report as abusive

yeah right, like for US its oil first and terror third, second comes the Russia. This propaganda against Russia is going on from last 50yrs through well paid so called journalists. Russian soldiers who died in Crimea never got the same respect and US men who died in Iraq, Vietnam, Afghanistan for oil greed and geo political control got the respect, claps. Stupid article.

Posted by Adi_Sanghi | Report as abusive

turkey has been the life line support of isis and all kinds of islamist terror groups.

Posted by ScotR | Report as abusive

Russia WAS bombing the ISIS oil tankers going into Turkey to be sold to the govt. who are obviously supporting the terrorists, allowing them to come through from Turkey into Syria.
Govt. weapons going from Turkey to ISIS, yet Turkey is an ally??
Just ask the journalists who documented this in Turkey. Oh wait, you can’t because they’re in jail.

Posted by DoubleSpeak84 | Report as abusive

Do we have to put up with flagrantly biassed stuff like this?
It would be more true to say that the priority of the west is regime change in Syria, followed by trying to contain the terrorist monsters they have unleashed in an effort to achieve that end.

Posted by Interdog | Report as abusive

Putin is a sensible man and he is right in his priorities. Turkey can still be saved; but terror is here for a longer time. Sorting out the Erdogan situation will be a huge step in addressing the overall threat.

And of course, there is the danger of a destabilized Turkey of 70 million. You wouldn’t want half of that population prone to radicalization and the other half as refugees.

Posted by Neslihan | Report as abusive

Instead, Putin focused his wrath on Turkey, blaming its “ruling clique” for shooting the Russian airmen in the back. Fantastic piece of writing, a NATO member state shoots down a Russian fighter after supposedly 10 warnings in 18 seconds. Then runs off to its big brothers for support. Sovereign air space is over flown on numerous occasions. By various nations how many have the UK France Russia or the US shot down?

Posted by Moties001 | Report as abusive

Author would be well advised to look up Putin’s speeches of 10 or even 15 years ago before asserting that fighting terrorism is somehow “new” policy goal, which only emerged this year. Russians faced terror ever since ussr fell apart. I have recently came across an articke by the former Israeli security chief, who wrote that as far as in 2005 russian security officials in discussions with him were concerned about a possible islamic khalifate to be established in the government-free territories in South Iraq, and spreading from there to Russia and to Europe.
Putin’s propaganda, right?

Posted by BraveNewWrld | Report as abusive

HA HA, Putin shoots down two passenger jets, loses one to Islamic State and now gets his (lace) panties in a wad over one of his warplanes that violated another countries airspace. Typical Russian.

Posted by forzapista | Report as abusive

This downing of Russian airplane is a direct action of NATO=US in this proxy war while operating under the Turkey skirt.

Cheap shot at best and back-stabbing as described by Russia.

Turkey had its day of fame, like every dog has its day.

Posted by Mottjr | Report as abusive

Interesting to hear Channel One televised the sleeping officials.

Posted by bluepanther | Report as abusive

Boring article… have read this so many times before, started to ignore this bogus opinions about Putin. No matter what he does, even if he manages to solve world hunger problem, they will still say, Putin wiped the other half of the world, so the others can eat.

Posted by free_man | Report as abusive

reuters scared of putting my comment…hahaha truth hurts

Posted by Adi_Sanghi | Report as abusive

Turkey violates Greek airspace. How many times should Greeks have shot down Turkish airplanes? Treachery is a normal practice in the world.

Posted by DreaMan | Report as abusive

Author Lucian Kim got himself confused with the title here. The real title is: “Vladimir Putin targets the real source of terror Turkey first, their terror army second in state-of-Russia speech”.

Good job Mr Putin, you know how to take care of business.

Posted by t4525h13 | Report as abusive

Author Lucian Kim got himself confused with the title here. The real title is: “Vladimir Putin targets the real source of terror Turkey first, their terror army second in state-of-Russia speech”.

Good job Mr Putin, you know how to take care of business.

Posted by t4525h13 | Report as abusive

Speech paraphrased : 1) I am firmly on track to destroy every meaningful business relationship with as many other nation states as possible, Ukraine USA and Europe last week, Turkey this week. (2) Regarding the price of oil, we’re screwed there too.

Posted by tribeUS | Report as abusive

Putin enters far-flung war by choice, and is shocked. Shocked! that one of his jets would be shot down in said war.

Poor Putin. We’ll get started on that hurt feelings report.

Posted by Solidar | Report as abusive

Reuters did uncounted reports about Mr Putin ,his daughters but somehow not a single report about the Criminal Islamist Erdogan and his Criminal son.

Posted by Macedonian | Report as abusive

I cant say if this is journalism or a poorly written text to win a sarcasm competition. The Media needs to understand that they are information dispensers and that we will gladly “make our own opinion”.

Posted by JoaoCourinha | Report as abusive

Western propaganda is quite the same as Soviet once. It’s not surprising because Communism was born in the West
Vladimir Lenin started with 240 Bolshevik terrorists in two armoured wagons from Swiss. But the Million golden marks and his protection were secured by Germany.
Leiba Bronstein aka. Leon Trotsky started from New York on s ship loded with Bolshevik murderers from East Side. He hag 20 million golden dollars from Jacob Schiff – a Rothschild’s agent. Who lifted Putin? Those who own the Russian economy – from aluminium industry to Yukos, Rosneft, LUKOil and Gazprom. (See “Rothschild is the new power behind Yukos” by Simon Bell in Moscow, Lucinda Kemeny and Andrew Porter, “The Sunday Times”, London, November 2, 2003, online: http://-business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/b usiness/article1101531.ece; “Yukos Slipping Away? Will Baron Rothschild give shares to President Putin?”, “Pravda”, Moscow, 30.10.2003, online: http://-english.pravda.ru/news/russia/19 -05-2006/english.pravda.ru/main/-18/89/3 55/11179_yukos.html; „Структура акционерного капитала“, Распределение акционерного капитала ОАО „ЛУКойл“ по состоянию на 28.02.2013, ОАО „ЛУКойл“, Москва, online: http://www.lukoil.ru/static_6_5id_213_.h tml)
Things like Lucian Kim are low-rate servant – prostitutes.
Thw West embraced the Communists in the East and betrayed the people who suffered 50 years under Soviet boots which turned out ‘Made in USA’ fr Western Europe.Let the curse and shame be on them.

Posted by Ifandiev | Report as abusive

Russians fell for communism because those who stayed are a gullible population. And they are falling for authoritarian rule again and a weak economy again, under Putin.

The bright and ambitious Russians left many years ago. What remains is drunken sad mass of TV watchers who see what Putin lets them see, and little more.

Posted by Solidar | Report as abusive

The writer says, “.even though they hardly described the challenges facing Russia today.” What might those other challenges be, pray tell?

Posted by hometown | Report as abusive

Reuters, where are all the comments and opinions disappearing to ??

Posted by Laster | Report as abusive

PROPAGANDA. One would think Reuters a little better than this.

Posted by bothandeach | Report as abusive

Of course no government is ever completely innocent (US, Turkey, etc.), but its always entertaining to skim the delusional, paranoid, and insecure comments of the Putin defenders. Some day he will be gone and Russians will get to choose their own path.

Posted by macrodelusions | Report as abusive

News Flash Bully get nose bloodied, cries like a baby.

Posted by Amwatching2c | Report as abusive