Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan says both he and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin agree that the assassination of Moscow's envoy to Ankara was an act of provocation by those seeking to ruin relations between both countries.
"We know that this is a provocation aimed at destroying the process of normalization in relations between Turkey and Russia," said Erdogan during a televised broadcast after a phone conversation with Putin.
Andrey Karlov was shot dead while delivering a speech on the opening of a photo exhibition dubbed “Russia in the eyes of Turks” on Monday.
The assassin has been identified as 22-year-old Mevlut Mert Altintas, who had served with the Turkish anti-riot police for around three years. Altintas was “neutralized" by Turkish police after killing the envoy.
Erdogan added that relations between Turkey and Russia were very important for the region and that those who aimed to harm these ties would never succeed.
Earlier this summer, Ankara and Moscow agreed on normalizing their relations after they soured following the last year shooting down of a Russian jet by Turkey over Syria.
‘Attack aimed at sabotaging ties, Syria peace efforts’
Putin also said that the assassination was a “provocation” aimed at sabotaging warming ties between Russia and Turkey and measures being taken to solve the crisis in Syria.
"The crime that was committed is without doubt a provocation aimed at disrupting the normalization of Russian-Turkish relations and disrupting the peace process in Syria that is being actively advanced by Russia, Turkey and Iran," said Putin during a televised speech.
"There can be only one answer to this -- stepping up the fight against terrorism, and the bandits will feel this," he added.
Putin added that Moscow was sending investigators to Ankara to investigate the incident, adding, "We have to know who directed the hand of the killer."
Reactions to Russian envoy’s assassination
Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council has condemned the incident as a "terrorist attack." "The members of the Security Council reiterated the need to bring the perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of terrorist attacks to justice," the 15-member council said in a statement.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault also condemned the "despicable" killing of the Russian envoy.
"We are engaged in a terrible cycle that must lead us, wherever we can, to fight terrorism in all its forms but also to work through negotiation to create the conditions for a lasting peace," he said. "In the name of France, I must condemn with the greatest possible force this despicable act. I express my solidarity with Russia, but also Turkey, which is itself a victim of terrorism."
The Iranian Foreign Ministry also strongly condemned the assassination of the Russian ambassador as "barbarous."
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also said he was "appalled by this senseless act of terror." "The secretary-general is following the unfolding situation closely and wishes the other people who were reportedly injured in the attack a speedy and full recovery," said a statement read by Ban’s spokesman.
Gulen's movement denies involvement
Following allegations made by an unnamed senior Turkish security official that "very strong signs" show that US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen's movement was behind the attack, the cleric’s spokesman told reporters that such “laughable" claims are only intended to cover up for Turkey’s lax security.
“Gulen categorically condemns this heinous act," said Alp Aslandogan.
"Turkish and international experts repeatedly have pointed out the deterioration of security and counter-terrorism efforts due to the Turkish government's assigning hundreds of counter-terrorism police officers to unrelated posts, as well as the firing and imprisoning of many others since 2014," he added.