The shooting down of a Russian jet by Turkey is a “stab in the back” committed by “accomplices of terrorists”, Vladimir Putin has said.
The Sukhoi Su-24 was warned 10 times before being downed near the Syrian border by two Turkish F16 jets for violating the country’s airspace, according to the Turkish military.
A Turkish official said two Russian war planes approached the Turkish border and were warned before one of them was shot down, adding their information shows Turkish airspace was repeatedly violated. Both of the pilots are dead, say Sky sources.
A rebel group has told the Associated Press it shot dead one of the pilots as he tried to land safely in northern Syria after ejecting from the jet.
Video sent to Reuters appears to show one of the pilots immobile on the ground. “A Russian pilot,” a voice is heard saying, as men gather around the man on the ground. “God is great,” is also heard.
The Russian leader said the jet “did not in any way threaten Turkey” and the incident will have “serious consequences” for relations between the two countries.
Mr Putin said the aircraft was shot by a missile from a Turkish jet over Syria around 1km (just over half a mile) away from the Turkish border, which he described as a “stab in the back by the terrorists’ accomplices”.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has said Turkey has a right to respond if its airspace is violated.
The incident is the first time a NATO member’s armed forces have shot down a Russian or Soviet military aircraft since the 1950s.
Russia’s decision to launch airstrikes in Syria against Islamic State targets and forces battling the regime of President Bashar al Assad means Russian and NATO planes are flying combat missions in the same airspace for the first time since the Second World War.
Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, said: “In this dangerous moment after downing of Russian jet, all should remain cool headed and calm.”
The Russian plane went down in an area known by Turks as “Turkmen Mountain” in northern Syria near the Turkish border.
The region has been the subject of a Syrian government offensive in recent days under the cover of Russian airstrikes. NATO has called an emergency meeting in light of the incident, and Russia’s charge d’affaires has been summoned to the Turkish foreign ministry. source