Russian Foreign Minister Calls Turkey’s Downing of Plane a ‘Planned Provocation’
The Russian foreign minister said that Turkey’s downing of a Russian fighter jet appears to have been planned.
The Su-24 aircraft was shot down on November 24, with one of the pilots later being killed by rebel groups in Syria. The other pilot was recovered and is at a Russian air base in Syria.
The plane was flying toward the border of Turkey and Syria when, according to Turkey, it was given 10 warnings in 5 minutes.
But after ignoring those warnings, Turkey shot down the plane after it violated Turkish airspace. U.S. officials say the “incursion” took place under a minute.
Sergey Lavrov, the foreign minister, told reporters that Russian officials believe the act was intentional.
“We have serious doubts that it was unintentional, it looks like a planned provocation,” Lavrov said, adding that some Russian partners call the downing incident “an obvious ambush.”
Lavrov said that sources indicated to him that during the emergency NATO meeting following the situation, Turkey was “sharply rebuked” but its allies ultimately supported it publicly.
“We are not planning to wage a war against Turkey, our attitude towards Turkish people has not changed,” the minister said. “We have questions only to the Turkish leadership.”
At the same time, though, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered state-of-the art air defense missile systems to be deployed at a Russian air base in Syria, reported the Associated Press, raising concerns that a military confrontation could take place. The air base is just 30 miles (50 kilometers) south of the border with Turkey.
Lavrov’s comments came after he spoke with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also spoke on November 25, saying his country also doesn’t want tensions to escalate over what happened.
Erdogan said Turkey favors “peace, dialogue and diplomacy,” but defended his country’s actions and said “no one should expect Turkey to stay silent to border violations or the violation of its rights.”
Putin spoke shortly after the plane was shot down, calling the shooting a “stab in the back” and promised “serious consequences.”
He later told Russians not to visit Turkey “because we can’t exclude some other incidents following what happened yesterday and our citizens in Turkey could be in significant danger.”
While the U.S. has denied direct involvement, Lavrov questioned whether Turkey had asked and received permission to shoot down the plane from the United States.