Rus­sia, Tur­key spar over downed plane

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - NEWS - Agence France-Presse ht­metro@hin­dus­tan­times.com

MOSCOW/ANKARA: Rus­sia on Wed­nes­day ac­cused Tur­key of a “planned provo­ca­tion” over the down­ing of a war­plane on the Syr­ian border as a res­cued pi­lot claimed that no warn­ing had been given.

As the diplo­matic fallout from Tues­day’s in­ci­dent raged on, Ankara sought to play down ten­sions and its al­lies in NATO is­sued ur­gent ap­peals for re­straint. Moscow said Rus­sian and Syr­ian spe­cial forces had res­cued one of the two pi­lots who ejected from the bomber as it plunged to the earth in a fire­ball but con­firmed the sec­ond air­man and a sol­dier sent to res­cue him died.

In his first in­ter­view, res­cued pi­lot Kon­stantin Mu­rakhtin told Rus­sian state me­dia there had been no warn­ing be­fore his plane was shot down by Turk­ish fighter jets. “There was no warn­ing, not by ra­dio ex­change nor vis­ually. There was no con­tact at all,” Mu­rakhtin said at Moscow’s base in Syria.

Tur­key in­sists it gave 10 warn­ings in the space of five min­utes, an ac­count backed up by its NATO ally the US which spear­heads a coali­tion against Is­lamic State ji­hadists in Syria.

The down­ing has threat­ened ties be­tween two ma­jor ri­val play­ers in the Syr­ian war and raised fears it could es­ca­late into a wider geopo­lit­i­cal con­flict. “We have se­ri­ous doubts about this be­ing an un­premed­i­tated act, it really looks like a planned provo­ca­tion,” Rus­sian for­eign min­is­ter Sergei Lavrov said, af­ter speak­ing to Turk­ish coun­ter­part Mev­lut Cavu­soglu over the phone in the first con­tact be­tween the two over the in­ci­dent.

CON­TIN­UED ON P6

RE­LATED RE­PORTS, P16

“The direct con­se­quences could

lead to our re­fusal to take part

in a whole raft of im­por­tant

joint projects and Turk­ish com­pa­nies los­ing their po­si­tions on

the Rus­sian mar­ket.”

DMITRY MEDVEDEV, PM, Rus­sia

“We have no in­ten­tion of

es­ca­lat­ing this in­ci­dent.

We are only de­fend­ing our

own se­cu­rity and the rights of

our broth­ers.”

TAYYIP ER­DO­GAN,

Pres­i­dent, Tur­key

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