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.
- Turkey released what it claimed was audio of its military personnel giving a warning to the Russian warplane to turn round Wednesday.
- Russia deployed an anti-aircraft missile system to one of its Syrian bases Thursday.
Erdogan: Russia should not “play with fire”
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Friday warned Moscow not to “play with fire” with its response to the downing of a warplane on the Syrian border this week, Reuters reported.
During a speech to his supporters in Bayburt, Erdogan said: “We very sincerely recommend to Russia not to play with fire… We really attach a lot of importance to our relations with Russia… We don’t want these relations to suffer harm in any way.”
Erdogan had previously branded Russia’s threats of economic retaliation in response to the incident as “emotional” and “unfitting.”
Russia seeks economic penalties against Turkey
Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said Moscow could put limits on flights to and from Turkey, halt preparations for a joint free trade zone, and restrict high-profile projects including the TurkStream gas pipeline and a $20 billion nuclear power plant Russia is building in Turkey.
On Wednesday, Russian Prime Minister Dmitriy Medvedev ordered the government to put plans into place to freeze some joint investment projects and restrict food imports following Turkey’s downing of a Russian warplane Tuesday.
Turkish PM seeks to calm tensions with Russia
Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu sought to ease tensions with Russia Friday, after Turkish fighter jets downed a Russian warplane near the Syrian border earlier this week.
Writing in The TImes of London, Davutoglu said that fighting ISIS was the Turkish government’s main priority, and that Russia must work to fight the same common enemy.
He insisted his government “will work with Russia and our allies to calm tensions”:
The downing of an unidentified jet in Turkish airspace was not — and is not — an act against a specific country. Turkey took action, based on standing rules of engagement, to protect the integrity of its sovereign territory. The necessary discussions are now taking place. While the measures to defend our territory will remain in place, Turkey will work with Russia and our allies to calm tensions.
Russian Defense Ministry says it has suspended all cooperation with Turkey.
Russia has suspended all cooperation with the Turkish military, the Russian Defense Ministry said Thursday.
This includes a hotline set up to share information about Russian airstrikes in Syria, TASS, a Russian government news agency reported.
Later Thursday Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkovannounced that the militaries of Russia and Syria had delivered airstrikes at the area where one of the pilot’s was rescued.
Konashenkov claimed a group of militants and other armed units were destroyed in the strikes.
Putin: Turkish government pursuing “Islamization” of country
Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the Turkish government of going in “radical directions” and pursuing policies that will lead to the “Islamization” of the country, Haaretz reported.
Putin told reporters in Moscow Thursday:
We see, and we are not alone I assure you, it is seen all over the world, that current Turkish leadership for a considerable number of years has been pursuing an internal policy of Islamization in the country.
We are talking about the support for more radical directions which creates a very hostile environment and atmosphere that is not visible at when it is first seen, that is first, secondly, after what happened yesterday, we cannot exclude any other incidents. And if that happens we will somehow have to react to it.
And our citizens in Turkey may be under significant risk and the Foreign Ministry if obliged to inform about it.
Erdogan: It’s Russia that needs to apologize to Turkey
Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan has responded to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin’s claim that Turkey had yet to apologize for downing a Russian jet near the Syrian border earlier this week, saying it’s Russia who should apologize to Turkey for violating their airspace.
In an interview with CNN, Erdogan said:
“I think if there is a party that needs to apologize, it is not us. Those who violated our airspace are the ones who need to apologize. Our pilots and our armed forces, they simply fulfilled their duties, which consisted of responding to … violations of the rules of engagement. I think this is the essence.”
Putin: Turkey has not apologized for downing jet
From the Associated Press:
Russian President Vladimir Putin says Turkey still has not apologized for the downing of a Russian warplane or given assurances that “the culprits of this crime” will be punished.
Previously warm relations between the two countries have soured after Turkey on Tuesday shot down a Russian Su-24 on a bombing mission near the Syria border.
Speaking at the Kremlin on Thursday, Putin complained that he has not received an apology from Turkey nor an offer “to make up for the damages.” Russia previously insisted that its plane never violated the Turkish airspace as Turkey claimed.
He said he regretted the fact that relations between Turkey and Russia have been driven into a stalemate.
Russian anti-aircraft missile system deployed in Syria
A Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile system was deployed at a one of the country’s Syrian airbases Thursday, the RIA Nostovi news agency reported.
The system has been deployed to the Hmeymim airbase, where the Russian air force is stationed.
The deployment of the system had been announced Wednesday, following Turkey’s downing of a Russian warplane near the Syrian border on Tuesday.
Turkey releases reported audio recording of warning to Russian jet
In response to the surviving Russian pilot’s assertions that he never heard the Turkish military issue any warning before shooting down his plane, Turkey has released what it says is an audio recording of the transmission, Reuters reported.
The voice on the recording is heard saying, “Change your heading.”
Russian pilot claims he never heard warning
The Russian pilot who survived when his warplane was shot down by Turkish jets said that no warnings were issued before he was fired upon, according to the AP.
“There were no warnings, either by radio or visually. There was no contact whatsoever,”
he said, according to TASS, Reuters reported.
Capt. Konstantin Murakhtin was on Russian television Wednesday, just one day after he bailed out of his crashing jet and was rescued on the ground.
Speaking from the Russian Hemeimeem air base in Syria, Murakhtin also reiterated earlier claims made by Russia that the plane remained in Syrian territory and did not violate Turkish airspace.
“I could see perfectly on the map and on the ground where the border was and where we were. There was no danger of entering Turkey,” he said, according to Interfax.
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.
Merkel: Downing of warplane “complicates” Syria situation
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told the Bundestag — the country’s lower house of parliament — Wednesday that Turkey’s downing of a Russian warplane near the Syrian border “complicates” the process of finding a political solution to the conflict in the country, ITV News reported.
“The situation has been aggravated by the shooting down of a Russian plane by Turkey,” she said, according to ITV News.
“We need to do everything to avoid an escalation. Of course every country has a right to defend its territory, but on the other hand we know how tense the situation is in Syria and in the surrounding area.
“I spoke yesterday with the Turkish prime minister and asked him to do everything to de-escalate the situation.”
Second pilot of downed Russian plane safe, defense minister says
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu on Wednesday said the second pilot who ejected from the warplane downed near the Syrian border Tuesday has been found by Russian and Syrian government forces and returned safely to base, TASS Agency reported.
“The operation ended successfully” Shoigu said. “The pilot has been taken to our base. Safe and sound. I’d like to thank all our men who were working all night long taking great risks.”
The rescue operation took 12 hours, he said.
Russia to move anti-aircraft missile system to Syria
Russia’s Ministry of Defense on Wednesday said that it would be moving an S-400 anti-aircraft missile system to its Khmeimim airbase in Syria, following the downing of one of its warplanes by Turkey near the Syrian border.