Russian plane was in Turkish airspace 'for just a few seconds'
Published 25/11/2015 | 02:30
A US official and a top Nato diplomat both say the Russian plane entered Turkish airspace before Turkey shot it down.
The American official said the Russian plane flew across a 3km section of Turkish airspace, which would take only a matter of seconds. The official said it was in the sliver of Turkish territory that juts down near the juncture of Idlib and Latakia provinces.
The Nato diplomat said the Turks have reported two separate violations of their airspace, including one that lasted 17 seconds.
The diplomat said the Turks had played the warning messages they sent to the Russians in a closed-door meeting of Nato's North Atlantic Council and that they sent 21 warnings in five minutes.
The diplomat said authorities in Ankara had one-on-one contacts with the Russians to stress how seriously they took the matter after previous Russian intrusions into Turkish skies last month, and that "clearly the Russians had been disrespecting the rules of the game and sovereign air territory."
Last night Russia's Defence Ministry summoned Turkey's military attache in Moscow for an official protest.
The ministry said the attaché was presented with a statement calling the downing of a Russian warplane an "unfriendly action" and reiterating Russian officials' contention that the downed plane had not violated Turkish airspace.
The ministry also complained that attempts to organise emergency cooperation with Turkey in the incident were unsuccessful.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey's right to protect its borders must be respected
However, American military sources claim that they heard communication between Turkish and Russian pilots before the plane was shot down. Col Steve Warren, spokesman for the US military in Baghdad, said they had been "able to hear everything that was going on".
Asked whether he could confirm that Turkish pilots issued 10 verbal warnings to the Russian pilots and that the Russians did not respond, Warren said: "Yes." .
Asked whether the US could determine from radar images whether the Russian plane had entered Turkish airspace, Warren said the US was still gathering information.
Warren said: "We need a little time to work all that out."