September 19, 2018

Surviving crew member of Russian jet says no warning from Turkey

The surviving crew member of a Russian warplane shot down by Turkey said on Wednesday the plane received no warnings from the Turkish Air Force and did not fly over Turkish air space, Russian news agencies reported.

Turkey shot down the Russian plane near the Syrian border on Tuesday, saying it had violated its air space, in one of the most serious publicly acknowledged clashes between a NATO member country and Russia for half a century.

Navigator Konstantin Murakhtin was rescued by Russian and Syrian special forces after ejecting from the plane but the pilot was shot dead by rebels as he parachuted to the ground.

“There were no warnings, either by radio or visually. There was no contact whatsoever,” TASS quoted Murakhtin as saying at a hospital in the Syrian province of Latakia, where Russia has an airbase.

“If they wanted to warn us, they could have shown themselves by taking a parallel course. There was nothing. And the missile hit the tail of our aircraft suddenly, we did not see it in time to do an anti-missile maneuver.”

Ankara has said the plane was repeatedly warned to change course after encroaching on Turkish air space but Moscow has denied that its warplane flew over Turkish territory.

Murakhtin also said his jet did not leave Syrian 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 was quoted by Interfax as saying.