Russia, Turkey spar over downed plane
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.
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“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