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Putin calls for 'one powerful fist' to confront terrorism in state of nation speech

Putin calls for 'one powerful fist' to confront terrorism in state of nation speech
Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his annual state of the nation address at the Kremlin in Moscow on Thursday. (Alexei Nikolsky / AFP/Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin called Thursday for “one powerful fist” to fight terrorism, hinted at more sanctions against Turkey and accused Western powers of creating “a zone of chaos.”

Speaking in his state-of-the-nation address televised live, Putin called for an end to what he called double standards that hampered uniting global efforts in fighting terrorism. Without naming the United States, he accused Washington and its allies of turning Iraq, Syria and Libya into a “zone of chaos and anarchy threatening the entire world” by supporting change of regimes in those countries.

Putin didn't address efforts to start a peace process in Syria in his speech, focusing on the need to pool global efforts in the fight against terrorism following the attacks in Paris and the downing of a Russian passenger plane in Egypt. The Islamic State militant group has claimed responsibility for both.

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"We must leave all arguments and disagreements behind and make one powerful fist, a single anti-terror front, which would work on the basis of international law under the aegis of the United Nations," he said, addressing lawmakers and top officials who had gathered in an ornate Kremlin hall. "That means no shelter to bandits, no double standards, no contacts whatsoever with any terrorist organizations, no attempts to use them for some selfish goals, no criminal, bloody business with terrorists."

Putin specifically targeted Turkey, accusing it of "allowing terrorists to earn money by selling oil stolen from Syria."

“For that money the bandits are recruiting mercenaries, buying weapons and staging cruel terror attacks aimed against our citizens, as well as citizens of France, Lebanon, Mali and other countries,” he said.

He accused Turkey of a “treacherous war crime” in downing a Russian jet along the border with Syria.

“God must have punished Turkey's ruling clique by depriving it of sense and reason,” Putin said.

Turkey said the plane violated its airspace for 17 seconds despite repeated warnings; Russia denies that. The incident, the first time a NATO country has downed a Russian plane in more than half a century, triggered a bitter falling out between the two nations, which had developed robust economic ties.

Moscow deployed long-range air defense missile systems to its base in Syria 30 miles south of the border with Turkey and slammed an array of economic sanctions on Turkey, including a ban on imports of fruit and vegetables and the sales of tour packages.

“We will remind them not just once about what they have done, and they will feel sorry about it more than just once,” Putin said without spelling out what other actions Russia may take.

“But if anyone thinks that after committing a treacherous war crime, the killing of our people, they will get away with [the ban on imports] of tomatoes or some restrictions on construction and other industries, they are deeply mistaken.”

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said Thursday that talks with Turkey on building a pipeline that would allow Russia to export natural gas to the European Union through Turkey have been halted.

Turkish and Russian foreign ministers were scheduled to meet on the sidelines of an Organization for Security and Cooperation meeting in the Serbian capital of Belgrade on Thursday, the first meeting at a senior level since the plane's downing.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has heatedly denied that his country was involved in oil trade with Islamic State, and has pledged to step down if Moscow proves its accusations.

The Russian Defense Ministry on Wednesday released an array of satellite and aerial images that it said shows hundreds of oil trucks streaming across the border. The ministry insisted that the images prove Turkey's massive oil trade with the militant group.

Top Defense Ministry officials also accused Erdogan and his family of personally benefiting from the oil trade with Islamic State, although they didn't provide any evidence to back the claim.

Putin said in his speech that Russia's air campaign in Syria, which started on Sept. 30, is intended to fend off a terror threat to Russia posed by militant groups in Syria that include people from Russia.

Putin said the military action has demonstrated the capability of Russia's modernized military.

"Modern Russian weapons have worked efficiently, and the priceless experience of its use in combat will be analyzed to help further improve our weapons," he said.

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