Tragic circumstances downed Russian plane: Putin

By Elena Teslova

MOSCOW (AA) – The downing of a Russian plane off Syria’s coast early Tuesday resulted from "a chain of tragic circumstances," according to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The downing of the Il-20 spy plane needs to be clarified, he said in Moscow on Tuesday, speaking at a news conference after meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Putin rejected comparisons with a 2015 incident in which Turkey shot down a Russian plane along the Syrian border, resulting in temporarily heightened tensions, saying: "Israeli jets didn't shoot down the Russian plane."

"Our position was stated by the Defense Ministry," he said.

On Russia’s response to the incident, Putin promised to strengthen the security of Russian troops in Syria.

"The response will be aimed at providing additional security for our soldiers, and it will be such steps that everyone will notice," he said.

Earlier Tuesday, Russia said one of its Il-20 military aircraft with 15 servicemen aboard had been downed accidentally by Syria’s Russian-made S-200 air-defense system.

According to the ministry, the plane was downed when Syrian air defenses were trying to repel an attack by an Israeli F-16.

– Hungary eyes sending Russian gas through southern corridor

For his part, Hungary’s Orban said his country is very interested in sending Russian gas through the southern corridor known as Turkish Stream.

The Turkish Stream is a pipeline currently under construction from Russia to Turkey. It is due to replace the cancelled South Stream project and to deliver natural gas from Russia to Southern Europe.