Turkey 'did not know jet was Russian', releases audio from incident


After surviving Russian pilot insisted no warning was given, the Turkish army released an audio recording telling the plane to turn around

Turkey says its F-16 jets shot down the Russian plane under its rules of engagement, while Moscow says the act was a 'planned provocation' (AA)
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Last update: 
Monday 7 December 2015 16:08 UTC

Turkey's military said on Wednesday that it did not know the warplane it downed on the Syrian border was Russian and that it was ready for "all kinds of cooperation" with Moscow's army authorities following the incident.

"The nationality of the plane was not known... and the rules of engagement were automatically used," the Turkish military said in its statement.

It added that had invited Russian defence and military attaches to its Ankara headquarters to explain the incident.

The Turkish military made significant efforts to find and rescue the pilots after the jet was shot down on Tuesday, the statement said. It also called Moscow military authorities to express readiness for "all kinds of cooperation," it added.

Also on Wednesday, the army released a series of audio recordings of apparent warnings issued to the jet before it was downed near the Syrian border. 

"This is Turkish Air Force speaking on guard. You are approaching Turkish airspace. Change your heading south immediately," a voice in one of the recordings can be heard saying in English, repeating the message several times. 

The surviving pilot of the Su-24 bomber shot down on Tuesday said earlier that no warning had been given and the aircraft did not violate the Turkish air space, although Turkey insists that it gave 10 warnings in five minutes.

"There was no warning, not by radio exchange nor visually. There was no contact at all," Konstantin Murakhtin told Russian journalists at Moscow's base in Syria following his rescue by special forces.

"I could perfectly see on the map and on the ground where the border was and where we were," said Murakhtin, a navigator. "We were flying at an altitude of 6,000m, the weather was clear."

Turkey says its F-16 jets shot down the Russian plane under its rules of engagement, while Moscow says the act was a "planned provocation".

The downing has threatened ties between two major rival players in the Syrian war and raised fears it could escalate into a wider geopolitical conflict.

The repercussions for both countries could be significant. The stock market in both nations tanked and the Turkish lira took a nosedive. Russia could respond by economically cutting off Turkey. Turkey is heavily reliant on Russian gas and enjoys close relations with Russian construction firms. 

But Turkish economic forecasters told MEE that Russia would also be hit by a heavy economic toll.

"The Russians are already facing a European boycott and if they lose Turkey - then they have no one to export their energy to, and also no one to import from,” said Erdal Tanas Karagol, a researcher at the economics department of the pro-Turkish-government SETA Foundation.