The downing of a Russian warplane by Turkey threatened to lead to a wholesale breach in the countries’ relations Thursday, with the Kremlin preparing to sever economic ties and Turkish officials saying they had no reason to apologize.
Prime Minister Dmitry A. Medvedev of Russia gave government officials two days to draw up a list of ways to curb economic links and investment projects. That included the possible shelving of a multibillion-dollar deal to build a gas pipeline through Turkey that President Vladimir V. Putin had trumpeted as a welcome alternative route for Russian gas exports to Europe.
Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, stoked the confrontation by hurling insults at each other and demanding redress.
“We have still not heard any comprehensible apologies from the Turkish political leaders, or any offers to compensate for the damage caused, or promises to punish the criminals for their crime,” Putin said at the Kremlin. He reiterated Russia’s position that the warplane was brought down Tuesday over Syria, not Turkey.
“One gets the impression that the Turkish leaders are deliberately leading Russian-Turkish relations into a gridlock,” Putin said, adding later in the day: “Turkey was our friend, almost an ally, and it is a shame that this was destroyed in such a foolish manner.”
The standoff between the two prideful leaders boded ill for the mission of President François Hollande of France, who met with Putin in Moscow on Thursday as part of his effort after the Paris attacks to cement an international coalition to confront the Islamic State.
Moscow and Ankara had already been divided over the future of President Bashar Assad of Syria. Turkey insisted that he step aside, while Russia called Assad a central ally in the fight against Islamic State.
The downing of the Russian plane inflamed that rift. Erdogan maintained Thursday that Turkey was protecting its airspace from Russian incursions. “Faced with the same violation today, Turkey would give the same response,” he said. “It’s the country that carried out the violation which should question itself and take measures to prevent it from happening again, not the country that was subjected to a violation.”
Later, Erdogan appeared to soften his remarks somewhat, telling France 24 television: “We might have been able to prevent this violation of our airspace differently.”
During a news conference with Hollande late Thursday, Putin suggested that the United States, an ally of Turkey, was responsible for the fate of its warplane, since Moscow officials had passed on information about where and when its bombers would fly.
“What did we give this information to the Americans for?” Putin asked, rhetorically, before adding: “We proceed from the assumption that it will never happen again. Otherwise we don’t need any such cooperation with any country.”
Immediately after Turkey shot down the Russian warplane Tuesday, senior officials in Moscow and Ankara vowed that they wanted to limit any larger conflict. Given that Turkey is a member of NATO, any military confrontation risks pulling in its Western allies.
But the economic, geographic and historically competitive ties that bind the two faded empires are facing new strains. At the very least, the tension will hamper chances of resolving the bloody war in Syria.
The Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said that while he had expressed regret over the episode in a telephone call on Wednesday to his Russian counterpart, Sergey V. Lavrov, there would be no apology.
“We do not need to apologize on an occasion that we are right,” Cavusoglu said.
Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, objected to the failure of Turkish or NATO officials to offer condolences over the two Russian military men who died after the plane was shot down. She also demanded an explanation from Turkey about the death of the pilot, who was killed after he parachuted from the plane. It is believed he was shot by Turkmen insurgents who live along the border on the Syrian side and who are supported by Ankara.
The insurgents have accused the Russian air force of hitting their positions especially hard after the downing, in areas distant from Islamic State strongholds.
“We think it is justified to intensify our airstrikes,” Putin said Thursday, suggesting that Russia will respond to the episode with more such attacks rather than with a direct military challenge to Turkey.
Even before any formal plans for economic sanctions were drawn up, Russia was already retaliating. Moscow has a long history of suddenly discovering faults with the goods and services of other nations when diplomatic relations sour.
Hundreds of trucks bearing Turkish fruits, vegetables and other products were lining up at the Georgian border with Russia, Russian news media reported, as inspections slowed to a crawl and Russian officials suggested there might be a terrorist threat from the goods.
“This is only natural in light of Turkey’s unpredictable actions,” Dmitry S. Peskov, the presidential spokesman, told reporters.
In the Krasnodar region, a group of 39 Turkish businessmen attending an agriculture exhibition were detained for entering Russia on tourist rather than business visas — a common practice — and were slated for deportation, according to a report on the website of the Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper.
Government officials announced that a special year of cultural exchanges planned for all of 2016 would be canceled.
The biggest question about possible economic fallout hung over major energy projects, including the gas pipeline across the Black Sea and the construction of Turkey’s first nuclear power plant.
Alexei Ulyukayev, the minister of economic development, said Thursday that both the pipeline, known as the Turkish Stream, and the Akkuyu nuclear power plant project might be included on any sanctions list.
Gazprom was expected to invest some $10 billion in the pipeline project. Russia had been seeking to build the $22 billon South Stream project to avoid sending gas across Ukraine, given its conflict with its neighbor, but balked at the sharing conditions set by the European Union.
The Russian government warned against tourism to Turkey, and most major tour operators stopped selling vacation packages. Turkey is among the most popular destinations for the Russian middle class.
Sanctions could be damaging for both countries, even if trade was down in 2015 from a year earlier. Russia was the biggest source of Turkish imports in 2014, some $25 billion or 10 percent of the total, according to an analysis by Renaissance Capital, much of it most likely natural gas. Turkey exported $6 billion worth of goods to Russia in 2014, 4 percent of all exports, and nearly 4.5 million Russians visited last year, according to the analysis.
Russia does not always use a calculator in making sanctions decisions. In 2014, when the West imposed economic sanctions for the Russian annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, the Kremlin responded by banning food from the West. That caused a surge in prices for Russian consumers.
Some Russian commentators mocked the prospect of sanctions against Turkey in response to the warplane downing.
“Russia’s response to a loss of a military jet, to an actual declaration of war, involved a ban on chicken imports and a ban on its tourists going on vacation to Turkey,” Arkady Babchenko, a Russian journalist, wrote on his Facebook page. “That’s the whole set of tools this ‘energy superpower’ was able to set forth to project geopolitical influence when it came to real matters.”
But the Ottoman Empire, Turkey’s ancestor, was a bloody rival of the Russian Empire, and the confrontation over the warplane mostly evoked a patriotic response across social media.
“The Turkish people have never been our friends – artful, cunning and hypocritical,” one man wrote on Facebook, while another vowed that “I will not go to Turkey or buy Turkish products.”
Other Russians lashed out directly at the man who was clashing with their president. “Erdogan completely lost the sense of reality — no good will come of it — not for him, not for Turkey,” Igor Korotchenko, a military analyst, wrote on Twitter.