The surviving crew member of a Russian fighter jet shot down by Turkey has rejected Ankara’s explanation of the incident, saying there were no warnings given before the plane was attacked.
Turkey said the fighter jet violated its airspace on its southern border with Syria, an assertion that navigator Konstantin Murakhtin denied.
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“No, this is impossible, not even for a second,” Murakhtin told Russian media on Wednesday.
The navigator was rescued by Russian and Syrian special forces, but the pilot was shot dead by rebels as he parachuted to the ground.
Turkey on Wednesday released what it said was an audio recording of a warning given to the Russian fighter jet.
A voice in one of the recordings can be heard saying in English: “You are approaching Turkish airspace. Change your heading.”
According to Turkish armed forces, the warnings were issued by the Diyarbakir airbase and not by pilots.
However, Murakhtin said he heard nothing.
“In actual fact, there were no warnings at all, neither by radio nor visually. There were no contacts whatsoever.”
Turkey’s military said it invited Russian military attaches to its headquarters and explained that Ankara shot down the Russian jet because its rules of engagement went into effect after the plane did not respond to the alleged warnings.
In a written statement on Wednesday, Turkish armed forces said they had made great efforts to find and rescue the pilots of the plane, and had called military authorities in Moscow to express readiness for “all kinds of cooperation”.
“The nationality of the plane was not known … and the rules of engagement were automatically used” after the plane did not respond to “10 different warnings”, the military said.
“All questions have been answered, radar maps have been used to explain the issue to the Russian side and [our] readiness to share any kind of information have been expressed.”
Meanwhile, fighting has resumed in Kassab, Syria, where the Russian jet came down, further complicating investigations into the incident.
Parts of the plane landed in Turkey, leaving resident Mevlut Horoz injured.
“We heard the sound of an explosion. We heard a loud boom. For a moment I thought I was dying. Then I saw my ear was bleeding. I also saw something went into my leg. Blood was dripping from my face.”
The downing of the jet was one of the most serious publicly acknowledged clashes between a NATO member and Russia in half a century.