Turkey has refused to apologise for shooting down a Russian fighter jet near the Syrian border, say reports. Instead, President Tayyip Erdogan said Moscow should apologise for violating his country’s airspace.
“Our pilots and our armed forces, they simply fulfilled their duties, which consisted of responding to … violations of the rules of engagement. I think this is the essence,” CNN quoted him as saying. Turkey would “respond the same way” if the incident happened again, he added.
Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow was still waiting for an apology or offer of reimbursement from Ankara.
“Turkey had not given assurances that “the culprits of the crime” will be punished. “It seems that the Turkish leadership is deliberately driving relations (between Russia and Turkey) into a dead end,” Mr Putin said.
The incident has sparked a war of words between the two countries, with each accusing the other of being in the wrong. According to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Russian government has advised Russian citizens in Turkey to return home.
A statement said: ““Due to continuing terrorist threats in Turkey, we reiterate our recommendation that Russian citizens refrain from visiting the Republic of Turkey, and we recommend that Russians staying there for personal reasons return home,” the ministry said in a statement.”
The Russian Defence Ministry has cut all ‘channels of cooperation with the Turkish military, reports Russian news agency Tass. This includes a hotline between the two nations’ air forces to prevent air incidents.
Meanwhile, according to turkey president, Erdogan, said that the downing of the Russian warplane was not an action against Russia.
“It is out of question for Turkey to have direct military intervention against Russia or any other country,” Erdogan said. “Turkey can protect its borders and it expects all countries and world powers to respect its right to sovereignty. Russia should question its actions and take precautions accordingly.”
A civilian pilot says Turkey DID warn a Russian fighter jet to leave its airspace moments before it was shot down.The pilot, who was flying for Middle East Airlines (MEA) at the times of the incident, says he heard Turkey telling the Russian pilot to change direction. He says over the past month he has heard Turkey issue Russian jets bombing in Syria a number of warnings to leave their airspace. But he says he knew something was about to happen this time because the Turkish officer sounded tense.
The pilot, who wants to remain anonymous, was flying from Beirut to a Gulf country, told AL Arabiya News: “I confirm the authenticity of their recording, I heard these exact same warnings over and over again and the part I recorded on my phone was actually towards the end when I felt the matter was getting serious.“…..I heard similar warnings two or three times a week, on every flight I took for the past month.”
Yesterday, the surviving pilot of the Russian jet said there were no warnings before it was shot out of the sky.