Turkish fighter jets shot down a Russian warplane Turkey said had strayed into its territory Tuesday morning, provoking fury from Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russia denies the plane entered Syrian territory. One pilot was shot dead in the air by Syrian rebel groups, but a second was rescued and returned to base.
What We Know So Far
- Turkish fighter jets shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian border Tuesday morning. Turkish authorities said the plane violated the country’s airspace.
- Russia maintained the jet stayed over Syrian territory at all times.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin reacted furiously, calling it a “stab in the back” and accusing Turkey of aiding ISIS.
- Two Russian pilots ejected themselves after the SU-24 plane was hit.
- On Tuesday, Russian officials confirmed one had died in the air from ground fire. On Wednesday, the Ministry of Defense said the second had been picked up by the Syrian army and returned to base.
- Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday that he did not want an “escalation” of the situation.
- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the incident looked like a “planned provocation” by Turkey, but added Moscow would not “wage war” with Ankara.
Turkish and Russian foreign ministers to meet, Turkey says
The Turkish Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that the country’s FM Mevlut Cavusoglu had agreed to meet for talks with his Russian counterpart over the downed Russian warplane “in the coming days,” AP reported.
In a written statement, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic said the ministers had agreed to a meeting, but Lavrov said there were no concrete plans during a televised interview.
He instead suggested that he and Cavusoglu could meet on the sidelines of an international event.
Bilgic also said that the two ministers had a phone conversation, during which Cavusoglu briefed Lavrov on Turkey’s action, and that the two agreed to share details on the jet’s downing through “diplomatic and military channels.”
Lavrov: Russia will not wage war with Turkey, but says downing of jet “looks like planned provocation”
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia would not “wage war” with Turkey, but accused the downing of a Russian warplane at the Syrian border of being a “planned provocation,” according to Russia’s Sputnik News.
We have serious doubts it was an accident, and the prepared footage of the jet’s downing suggests the opposite. It completely looks like planned provocation.”
Speaking to journalists Wednesday, he denied claims that Moscow was avoiding contact with Ankara. “my phone conversation with the Turkish FM is a proof,” Lavrov said.
He added that his Turkish counterpart expressed his condolences during that conversation, but attempted to excuse the incident.
Lavrov also accused Turkey of failing to use a hotline set up between the two country’s militaries to discuss their forces’ operations in Syria.