Dec 19 – 11:59 pm

In a televised statement, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the assassination of the Russian ambassador in Ankara Andrey Karlov a clear provocation aimed at derailing the Syrian peace negotiations.

“This crime is obviously a provocation aimed at hampering the normalization of Russia-Turkey relations, as well as at derailing the peace process in Syria, which is actively mediated by Russia, Turkey and Iran,” Putin said at a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and heads of Russian security bodies in the Kremlin. “The only response to this [crime] could be the strengthening of the fight against terrorism,” Putin stressed.

Russia has announced that they will send a team of investigators to Turkey after a horrific murder of Ambassador Andrey Karlov in Ankara. This occurred after President Putin spoke on the phone with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Both presidents agreed that the murder of the ambassador was a provocation, aimed at derailing bilateral relations between the countries as well as an attempt to stop peace negotiations on a resolution of the Syrian conflict, Sputnik reports.

Putin also ordered the Russian Foreign Ministry to award a state award to ambassador Karlov. Translated from Russian, Putin said “I ask that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to posthumously present [Karlov] with the State Award so his memory may be immortalized. He died in the line of duty.”

In a televised statement of his own, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: “I tell those who want to harm our relation with Russia by this attack, you will never reach your aim.”

He called the attack a clear provocation meant to damage Turkish and Russian relations. Erdogan claimed that there will be a joint-nation investigation into the murder, and that it would not derail the ongoing negotiations between Turkey, Russia, and Iran to evacuate the beleaguered city of Aleppo.