Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday vowed to punish those responsible for the assassination of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, signaling that the killer was not acting alone.
Ambassador Andrei Karlov was gunned down earlier on Monday when a gunman opened fire in an art gallery located in Turkey’s capital of Ankara. Putin was quick to responded during a special Kremlin meeting, saying:
“A crime has been committed and it is without a doubt a provocation aimed at spoiling the normalization of Russo-Turkish relations and spoiling the Syrian peace process which is being actively pushed by Russia, Turkey, Iran and others.
We must know who directed the killer’s hand. There can be only one response — stepping up the fight against terrorism. The bandits will feel this happening.”
Putin said that he spoke with Turkish leader Tayyip Erdogan about Russian investigators helping Turkey in its investigation of the killing. The Russian president also ordered heightened security at Turkish diplomatic facilities in Russia, adding that he expects a similar response from Turkey for Russia’s diplomatic presence in that nation.
Karlove, who Putin said he knew personally, was reportedly several minutes into a speech at the art gallery in Ankara when a gunman dressed in a suit and tie opened fire on him. It appeared that the gunman had somehow positioned himself behind the ambassador, where he is shown standing alone both in pictures and video footage of the event.
Sputnik News identified the shooter as Mevlut Mert Altintas, a 22 year old male who was shot and killed by police at the scene. Altintas was a former police officer who was fired after getting investigated for a role in last July’s coup attempt in Turkey. Russia and Turkey have been on opposite sides of the Syrian conflict with Russia supporting President Bashar Assad, while Turkey has been favoring the rebels who oppose him.