Sunday 22 September 2019

Putin: I want an apology or an offer to make up the damages from the Turks over downed jet

Russia's President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a ceremony to receive diplomatic credentials from foreign ambassadors at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia
Russia's President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a ceremony to receive diplomatic credentials from foreign ambassadors at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia

Vladimir Putin has complained that he has received neither an apology from Turkey nor an offer "to make up for the damages" following the downing of a Russian warplane.

The Russian president also said Turkey has not given any assurances that "the culprits of this crime" will be punished.

Previously warm relations between the two countries have soured after Turkey shot down a Russian Su-24 on a bombing mission near the Syria border on Tuesday.

Russia insisted that its plane never violated the Turkish airspace as Turkey claimed.

Speaking at the Kremlin, Mr Putin said he regretted the fact that relations between Turkey and Russia have been driven into a stalemate.

His remarks came after Turkey released audio recordings of what it says are the Turkish military's repeated warnings to the pilot of the Russian plane before it was shot down.

The recordings indicate the plane was warned several times that it was approaching Turkey's airspace, and asked to change course.

The series of 10 audio clips were released by the Turkish prime minister's office and sourced to the Turkish Armed Forces.

In the recordings, a voice is heard saying in broken English: "This is Turkish Air Force speaking on guard. You are approaching Turkish airspace. Change your heading south immediately."

Most of the audio is garbled and barely comprehensible but the tone of the voice gets more agitated as the warnings appear to go unnoticed.

The audio that was released only involved Turkish warnings, no replies by a Russian pilot.

It was not clear whether Russian replies were received but not released by the Turkish government, or whether the Russian pilots never replied to - or never heard - the warnings.

One of the Russian pilots was killed by militants in Syria after ejecting from the plane, while his crewmate was rescued by Syrian army commandos. A Russian marine was also killed by the militants during the rescue mission.

Speaking in televised comments from the Russian base in Syria, the surviving navigator of the downed plane, Captain Konstantin Murakhtin, insisted the plane did not enter Turkish airspace "even for a single second".

Russia announced on Wednesday it will deploy long-range air defence missiles to its base in Syria and destroy any target that may threaten its warplanes.

The state-run Ria Novosti news agency quoted its own reporter in Syria as saying that S-400 missiles were delivered on Thursday.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan later hit back at Russia, accusing it of using its fight against Islamic State in Syria as a pretext to target opposition groups in a bid to strengthen Syrian president Bashar Assad.

Without naming Russia openly, Mr Erdogan also challenged the country to prove its accusation that Turkey is buying oil and gas from IS, and called the claims "shameful".

He said Turkey was the country leading the most serious fight against IS, saying it had detained thousands of militants over the past few years.

Mr Erdogan added that Turkey had not specifically targeted Russia when it shot down the plane, saying it was "an automatic response" in line with its rules of engagement.

He said: "Faced with the same violation today, Turkey would give the same response."

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