More drama in the Russian warplane downing by Turkish authorities unravels as the navigator of the aircraft, Cpt. Konstantin V. Murakhtin, stated that he did not receive any warning from Turkish Air Force before his Su-24 was shot down.
“There were no warnings from either the radio channel or visually, there was no contact at all,” he said from the Russian air base outside Latakia, Syria. The pilot, Lt. Col. Oleg A. Peshkov, survived the crash but was killed by open fire from the insurgents on the ground.
Cpt. Murakhtin said that he and the deceased pilot did not get any visual warning signs or any radio signal from the Turkish authorities that they were trespassing in Turkish air space. Moreover, the Su-24 was well within Syrian aerospace boundaries, only four to five miles into the Turkish border, when they were hit, which, he says, is hardly considered an infringement of the air space of any country. Both the pilot and the navigator landed inside the Syrian border. Sadly, Col. Peshkov came directly in the line of insurgents’ fire.
Murakhtin was captured by the insurgents in Syria upon safely landing in the mountainous area of Latakia province. The search and rescue team of Russian Special Forces followed the radio beacon mounted on the navigator’s ejector seat.
Murakhtin was retrieved from the Syrian militia after hours of negotiation. The pilot was, however, killed, confirmed by the Russian authorities. His body was shown in a video released by the insurgents who were exulting during the video. The current whereabouts of the body are, however, unknown.
The shooting down of the plane has instigated a wave of anger among the Russian public, who pelted the Turkish embassy with rocks and eggs Wednesday in Moscow. However, authorities have asked them to cool down and not take any violent actions against the diplomatic dignitaries.
On the other side of the fence, Turkey is still adamant in its statement that the Su-24 warplane was given 10 warnings before it was shot down. It was inside the Turkish airspace for more than 17 seconds and well within the boundaries.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that his country does not want a war with Russia and that they were only defending the security of their people.
“We have no intention of escalating this incident,” Mr. Erdogan said. “We are only defending our own security and the rights of our brothers.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov said they have evidence suggesting the attack was premeditated and that Turkey’s allies had a hand in this. He was referring to the American-made missile that downed the Russian warplane. The Russians think that Turkey received a green light from its US counterparts to launch the missile on the Su-24.
“We have enough information to confirm that this was a preplanned act,” Mr. Lavrov said at a news conference. Turkey was only looking for an excuse to shoot down the plane, he said.
Meanwhile, the Russian Air Force has bombed the town of Azaz three miles inside Turkey on Wednesday. Experts are touting it as retaliation for the warplane crash, as Azaz lies in the Turkish-Syrian buffer zone and is considered safe. It has been marked safe for the migrants to settle down after they flee Syria, especially the Islamic State controlled regions.
The airstrike bombed a truck stop in Azaz. Four trucks were blown up, killing at least three drivers. The town is also a residential area for the Turkmen tribes, very close to the Turkish people.