Turkey – A Russian warplane was shot down by Turkey near the Syrian border on Tuesday, allegating that it had constantly violated its airspace.
Turkish broadcaster ,Haberturk TV, showed footage of the airplane going down, in flames, towards a woodland area. According to them, the warplane crashed in an area known by Turks as ‘Turkmen Mountain.’
Another piece of footage, from Turkey’s Anadolu Agency, shows two pilots parachuting out the plane before the crash. However, a deputy commander of rebel Turkmen forces in Syria said that they shot both pilots dead, as they were fired at while they still were on the air.
Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that the plane was attacked when it was inside Syria by 1 km (o.62 mile), warning Turkey about harsh consequences for what he believes was a “stab in the back”, according to Reuters. He added that Russia won’t tolerate this kind of crimes, as both countries are concerned that the situation continues to escalate between the former Cold War enemies.
Both countries called for their diplomatic representatives, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summoned a meeting of its ambassadors for Tuesday afternoon. In addition, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, cancelled a previously appointed visit to Turkey that was set for Wednesday.
Russia’s Defence Ministry stated that during the entire flight, the jet was exclusively over Syrian territory, according to Reuters. However, Turkey’s officials reported that their military warned the aircraft 10 times that they were violating their airspace. Russia’s decision to launch airstrikes in Syria means that Russian and NATO warplanes have been flying within the same airspace for the first time since WWII.
They reported that a second plane was also close to the border and had been warned. A senior Turkish official told Reuters that they have reliable data of two planes getting near the border and being warned several times.
“We warned them to avoid entering Turkish air space before they did, and we warned them many times. Our findings show clearly that Turkish air space was violated multiple times. And they violated it knowingly,” the official said.
However, a second official said that the incident wasn’t a direct action against Russia, or any specific country whatsoever, but that it was a move to defend Turkey’s territory within the rules and laws established to do so.