The Russian pilot who was shot down along the Syrian border said Wednesday that Turkish jets did not issue any warnings before being fired at.
Capt. Konstantin Murakhtin said on Russian television that his plane was flying over Syrian territory and did not violate Turkish airspace.
“In actual fact, there were no warnings at all,” Muravkin told reporters from a Russian base in Syria. “Neither through the radio, nor visually, so we did not at any point adjust our course.”
Russia said Muravkin was rescued early Wednesday morning by Russian and Syrian commandos in a 12-hour operation.
Turkey, however, insisted the pilots were warned almost a dozen times before the Russian Su-24 bomber was shot down inside Turkish airspace.
The other pilot killed was named by Russia as Lieutenant Colonel Oleg Peshkov. It is unclear what happened to the body of Peshkov, who was killed by gunfire as he parachuted from the burning plane.
One of the rescue helicopters sent to search for the men was targeted by rebel fire and was forced to make an emergency landing. One of the marines on board was killed.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Peshkov would be awarded the country’s highest military honour, the Hero of Russia award, posthumously. The Order of Courage would be awarded to Murakhtin and posthumously to Pozynich.
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Putin reacted furiously to the incident on Tuesday, calling the move a “stab in the back by the accomplices of terrorists” and promised “serious consequences.” Russian officials have insisted their plane did not violate Turkish airspace and was conducting on operation in Syria.
U.S. President Barack Obama said Tuesday that Turkey had a right to defend its airspace and charged that Russian air activity near the Turkey-Syria border has contributed to the crisis.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday that it would not be “helpful to point fingers at one side or the other.”
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On Wednesday, Putin ordered air defence missile systems to be deployed at a Russian air base in Syria following the incident in Turkey, a move that some officials said raised the threat of a military confrontation between the NATO member and Russia.
*With files from the Associated Press