Turkish Downing of Russian Su-24

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Events according to Russia and Turkey
Russian updated schematic representation of events
NATO radar from October 5, 2015. The green are NATO planes in Syrian airspace.

On November 24, 2015, Turkish military jets fired on and downed a Russian fighter jet near the Syrian border (side disputed), as it carried out missions against Turkish-supported terrorist organizations inside Syria, at the request of the Syrian government. The pilot was killed as he parachuted out, while the co-pilot landed safely and was later rescued, insisting they never entered Turkish airspace, and never received a warning and thus were given no chance to avoid being shot down. Local terrorists also shot at a rescue helicopter that came in after, killing a Russian marine on board.

For further details and discussion, see the talk page. (To see what is hot, see recent changes)

Sources

  • Sputnik - All articles
  • Su-24 downing RT
  • Marat Musin reports from the crash site, Dec 19, 2015. Crash site recently became accessible, prior to that commanding heights were controlled by rebels. Also there were several rainy days making access difficult. Musin makes several claims, including that SU 24 continued to fly after Turkish plane attack but was finished off by a ground fire, with MANPAD or other ground to air missiles, which he says were fired from Turkey (listing himself and his crew as some of the witnesses). There are many fragments scattered around at the crash site; but he claims that rebels were unable to find plane data recorder, ---as well as other things--including plane navigator and a rescue group which lead him to safety. Musin spends quite considerable time criticizing Illarionov article (casting doubts on data recorder find). He paints this as without merit and in fact a service to Illarionov's 'Western/US handlers' afraid of what may come out. Musin believes that some significant information may be presented quite soon.

Context

Erdogan said he will resign if this is proven to be true. As quoted by TASS:

We are not that dishonest as to buy oil from terrorists. If it is proven that we have, in fact, done so, I will leave office. If there is any evidence, let them present it, we’ll consider [it]

More on the claims, including an appeal to the US to investigate the facts -TASS, English

Pre-planning

Look, we have informed our American partners in advance about where, when, and at what echelons, our pilots will operate. The American side, which heads the coalition --which also includes Turkey-- knew the place and time of our aircraft stay. And it was right there, and at that time we got a hit. The question is: why do we have this information passed on to the Americans? Either they do not control what their allies do, or the information is handed out left and right , not caring what are the consequences. And we, of course, will have to have serious enough consultations with our partners on this matter.

Regarding our aircraft, which reportedly were not recognized by the Turkish Air Force - it is impossible! They have markings, and can be clearly seen. These are our planes, and not some other

It is unfortunate that rather than deal seriously, deeply and work hard to make sure this never happen again, we hear muffled explanations, claims that even there is nothing to apologize for. Well, (what can I say),this is not our choice, this is the choice of the Turkish side...

U.S. involvement

Warnings

In Russian sources, Russian military is quoted saying that release of any evidence related to the shoot down was denied by Turkish military, and that Turkish MOD did not provide an audio of the warning to the media. Russian sources suggested that the audio recording could be faked.

Now it so happens that Su-24s have no radios onboard for receiving UHF-frequency signals, a fact which is well known to American, NATO and Turkish intelligence." Thus, while "it's likely true that the Turks radioed warnings…those warnings may have been deliberately transmitted only on the international civilian frequency so that the Su-24s would never hear them."

Shooting

Flight Recorder

Memory cards on flight recorder were damaged

News Yahoo/AFP

Officials warned that the memory card sustained damage as they opened the orange-painted flight recorder, with British and Chinese experts observing the procedure, an AFP correspondent saw.

Pilot killed

Who was targeted by bombing?

  • A Turkmen group (linked with Grey Wolves on social media) claimed that they were targeted, and took responsibility for pilot death.
  • In a subsequent strike, it is said that two of killed militants were identified (REN TV-Novosti) as Abu Basir al-Britain, British, who fought for the "Al-Nusra Front," and Abu Salim, head of the rebel coastal First Division. It is said that Abu Basir al-Brittany really is Lucas Kinney, a son of Hollywood director Patrick Kinney (seen on Cassad and REN TV article; unverified).

Effects

  • Bitter statements by Russian officials made warning of serious consequences to bilateral ties, and expecting an apology, punishing those responsible, compensating damage, etc. (Erdogan won't apologize, would do the same again).
  • Russia cuts military contacts with Turkey (including the 'hot line').
  • Russia upgrades its anti-aircraft defenses, including S-400 deployment (range up to 400 km), "Fort" system on "Moskva" ship (S-300 equivalent), more fighter planes, and other unspecified measures
  • Russia cancels FM visit to Turkey and a summit planned for mid-December in St. Petersburg, cuts economic cooperation and tourism.
  • Russia seeks economic revenge against Turkey over jet - Reuters, November 26, 2015*
"Turkish stream" and nuclear power station projects may be cut.

Effect on broad coalition and Vienna process

Lavrov:

If Russian aircraft downing by Turkish aircraft on November 24 was intended to undermine the prospects for creating a common front against terrorism, and the prospects for the political process in the framework of the Vienna group, the Turkish side will not succeed with this.

Diplomatic relations

The Kremlin on Monday released the excerpts of Erdogan’s letter. “I would like to express my sympathy and deep condolences to the family of the dead Russian pilot and I say I’m sorry,” the Kremlin said on its website quoting Erdogan. “I share their pain with all my heart.”
On translation issue, Dmitrii Peskov, spokesman for the Russian President, confirmed that he has expertise as he a Turkologist himself, and that Erdogan letter indeed contained an apology, as well as a regret (it contained both). Putin will call to Erdogan on June 29.

Pilot killer detained by Turkey?

31.3.2016 RIA: Militant Alparslan Celik who had previously taken the responsibility for the murder of the Russian Su-24 pilot Oleg Peshkov, was indeed detained in Izmir in western Turkey, confirmed to the RIA Novosti a source in the city police.

Analysis