Vladimir Putin: A tragedy occurred today at Medina airport in Saudi Arabia during the operation to free the hostages. Two innocent people died: a flight attendant on our plane, Yulia Fomina, a Russian citizen, and a citizen of Turkey.
First of all, I would like to express my condolences, my most sincere condolences, to the relatives and friends of the dead. My most genuine condolences. Yulia Fomina was only 27 years old. I ask my Executive Office to make sure that assistance is given to her relatives. Please be ready with your proposals.
This tragedy has reminded Russia and the world of who the Russian Army was dealing with in conducting the counterterrorist operation in the Chechen Republic and who our law enforcement and special services are dealing with in restoring constitutional order in Chechnya. It has been brought home to the leaders of the militant groups that, in spite of their arrogant statements, they cannot hold their own against the Russian Armed Forces in open combat, nor against the Russian special services. Many of them have already been eliminated. Some are in prison and facing trial. Some are still hiding in caves and employing hit-and-run tactics. But the smarter among them are already settling down abroad trying to organise hostile activities against Russia from other countries.
We have repeatedly warned our partners that the activities of international terrorists and militants are aimed not only against Russia and its people, but also against the countries where terrorists are trying to dig themselves in. Unfortunately, today we witnessed very sad and tragic proof of that.
It is regrettable that the tragedy occurred on the day of the 80th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between Russia and the Republic of Turkey. As you know, the tragedy began when our plane was hijacked in Turkey. Our relations with Turkey today have reached a very high level. We have genuinely good-neighbourly and friendly relations. Our partnership is developing in every area. And we very much hope that today’s tragedy will spur cooperation in the fight against organised crime and terrorism. So I would like to instruct the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, as well as the special services through their partnership channels, to propose to your colleagues a plan for jointly combating the terrorist threat that is both acceptable to them and effective. And the heads of the special services should focus on obtaining timely information on the actions and plans of the insurgents wherever they are, in or outside the Russian Federation.
And of course, we have to recognise the courageous and heroic behaviour of the plane crew.
Let us now move on to a discussion of the nuts and bolts of the situation.