A Russian warplane was shot down near Turkey’s border with Syria Tuesday morning, with Moscow and Ankara giving conflicting accounts of the incident.
Turkish military officials told Reuters and Turkey’s Dogan News Agency that Turkish F-16 fighter jets shot down the plane after it ignored warnings about violating Turkey’s airspace.
However, according to Russia’s state-run Interfax agency, the country’s Defense Ministry said the plane crashed in Syria, and was flying over Syrian territory.
Speaking Tuesday afternoon, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the fighter jet crashed on Syrian territory 4km (2.5 miles) from the Turkish border, and was shot 1km (0.6 miles) from the border.
Putin called the incident “a stab in the back by the accomplices of terrorists.” He vowed it would have “serious consequences” for Russian-Turkish relations.
He confirmed the jet was shot down “air-to-air.” Earlier, Russia’s Ministry of Defense had said the plane was “most likely” shot down from the ground.
He was speaking live on state-owned TV channel Rossiya 24.
Russia’s Ministry of Defense later tweeted that “objective monitoring data” proves the warplane remained over Syrian territory at all times.
The ministry added that it believed the pilots of a SU-24 ejected themselves following the incident, and that their fate was being determined.
A spokesman for Syrian rebel group the 10th Brigade in the Coast reportedly told APthat rebels shot at the pilots after they ejected, and one landed dead on the ground.
A video from the group has circulated on YouTube claiming to show the dead body, which verification site Bellingcat said did indeed show a deceased Russian pilot wearing uniform similar to that worn by service personnel carrying out airstrikes in Syria. However there has been no official confirmation as to either pilot’s fate.
A statement from Turkey’s General Staff said the jet was warned 10 times in five minutes, and challenged by two F-16 warplanes, the semiofficial Andalou Agencyreported.
Turkey has requested an extraordinary NATO council meeting regarding the downed jet, which will take place at 5 p.m. Brussels time (11 a.m. ET), The Times and AFPreported.
The Turkish Ministry of Defense released an image purporting to be of the flight radar track of the downed warplane, CNN Turk reported.
In the image below, the red line shows the Turkish military’s account of the path of the plane, with the blue line showing Turkey’s border with Syria, with Turkey to the north
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan was briefed by the head of the military following the crash, while Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu ordered the foreign ministry to consult with NATO, the U.N. and related countries, Reuters reported.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had been due to visit Turkey Wednesday. Turkish officials said the visit would go ahead as planned, according to The Guardian.