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Turkey Warns Russia Not To 'Play With Fire' On Jet Accusations

Russian and Turkish leaders continued to trade insults and accusations on Nov. 27 as Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested the U.S. may have had a hand in destroying a Russian jet that was shot down.

According to the Daily Mail, the Russian Su-24 jet was shot down on Nov. 24 as it clipped Turkey's southern border during operations over Syria. Since then, Putin and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan have refused to speak to each other directly while ratcheting up accusations in public.

In a press conference on Thanksgiving Day, Putin accused the U.S. of either being complicit in the Turkish attack, or of being incompetent and failing to safeguard real time tactical information.

"The American side, which leads the coalition that Turkey belongs to, knew about the location and time of our planes' flights, and we were hit exactly there and at that time," Putin said. "Why did we pass this information to the Americans? Either they were not controlling what their allies were doing, or they are leaking this information all over the place."

Meanwhile, Erdogan said Russia's response was "emotional," and cautioned Russian leaders against making rash decisions that could permanently sour relations between the two countries. The Russians, Erdogan said, should not "play with fire."

"We really attach a lot of importance to our relations with Russia ... We don't want these relations to suffer harm in any way," Erdogan said.

Both Russia and Turkey have been involved in operations in war-torn Syria, but with different aims. Russia publicly supports Syrian President Bashar Assad, while Turkey opposes him. Turkey, which has trained and supplied rebel fighters in Syria, has also been accused of providing weapons to Islamic State group, according to Bloomberg News.

Putin has said Assad's future should be determined by the Syrian people, but the official U.S. position is that the Syrian leader must be removed from office, CNN reported.

Compounding the problem of deteriorating relations between Russia and Turkey, Putin accused Turkey of covertly buying oil from Islamic State group, according to the Daily Mail.  Erdogan vehemently denied this charge.

"They are lies, they are slander. We have never, never had this kind of commercial relationship with any terror organization," Erdogan said.

Erdogan and Putin may have an opportunity to speak in person at an upcoming climate change conference in Paris, beginning Nov. 30.

Sources: Daily Mail, CNN, Bloomberg News / Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

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