After Turkey downs jet, Russia says it’s deploying anti-aircraft missiles to Syria – CNN
The unusual clash between Russia and a NATO member highlights the dangerous and unpredictable nature of the Syrian war, which has drawn global powers, including the United States, into a chaotic and complex conflict.
Turkey says Russian planes breached its sovereignty
Turkey and Russia have starkly different positions on Syria, with Ankara supporting rebels opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a key ally of Moscow.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned what he said was the violation of airspace by Russian warplanes, calling it an infringement of his country’s sovereignty. Turkey had repeatedly complained in the past of similar incidents.
He charged Russia with propping up the Assad government — a regime he said was inflicting terrorism on its own people. His remarks came a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Turkey of being “the terrorists’ accomplices” for shooting down a plane he claimed was on an anti-terrorism mission.
Erdogan disputed that claim in a speech.
“There is no Daesh” in the area where the Russian planes were flying, Erdogan said, using another name for ISIS. “Do not deceive us! We know the locations of Daesh.”
Contacts between Turkish and Russian officials
And experts agree.
“None of the targets that … the Russians were going after had anything to do with ISIS. Those were all those Turkmen groups,” said CNN military analyst Cedric Leighton, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel.
The Turkmen minority in that part of northern Syria has strong ties to the Turkish government, which wants to afford them a degree of protection. Anyone who bombs that area attacks “our brothers and sisters — Turkmen,” Erdogan has said.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said his country doesn’t want to “drive a wedge” into its relationship with Russia, according to the semiofficial Anadolu news agency. And the two countries’ foreign ministers have already spoken by phone and plan to meet in person over the coming days, the news agency reported, citing a Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman.
Russia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said Lavrov “expressed indignation” over the incident during the phone call.
Two high-ranking Russian military officers have visited the Turkish general staff since the plane was shot down, Anadolu reported.
“Every question about the incident has been answered,” the general staff said, according to the news agency. It said that images from radar displays were shown to the Russian attaches during visits in Ankara.
Even as Erdogan has insisted Turkey doesn’t want to escalate the situation, the anger in his words — and those of Putin — showed that the conflict in Syria has now churned up a new and alarming wave of international turbulence.
The stakes are high in Syria, where the United States, Russia and a swarm of other global, regional and local forces are entangled in the civil war.
Turkey releases tape
Turkey, a NATO member, said it had repeatedly warned the Russian warplane, shooting it down only after it ignored several warnings and violated Turkish airspace.
Russia rejected that version of events, with the rescued co-pilot Capt. Konstantin Murakhtin telling state media reporters that “there were no warnings — not via the radio, not visually.”
“If they wanted to warn us, they could have shown themselves by heading on a parallel course,” Murakhtin said, according to the official Sputnik news agency. “But there was nothing.”
The Russian military said it believed the other crew member in the bomber was killed, as was a marine taking part in search and rescue efforts.
Putin has said the Russian plane was attacked 1 kilometer inside Syrian territory. But Erdogan said parts of the downed plane had fallen inside Turkey, injuring two people.
On Wednesday, Turkey’s military released an audio recording of what it says was its warning to the Russian warplane.
In one portion, a voice is heard saying: “This is Turkish Air Force speaking on guard. You are approaching Turkish airspace. Change your heading south immediately. Change your heading south.”
Russia has not yet commented on the audio.