Downed Russian pilot says no caution given, Turkey releases audio of warning

ANKARA, Turkey, The Turkish government on Wednesday released what it said was a recording of a radio warning given to the pilots of a Russian jet before it was shot down in rebel territory near the nation’s border with Syria.

The Su-24 fighter jet was targeted Tuesday and crashed in contested territory in Turkey’s southeast. Two pilots on board ejected from and survived the crash, but one was killed when the pair came under small arms attack from rebels on the ground.

“One on board was wounded when he parachuted down and [was] killed in a savage way on the ground by jihadists in the area,” Aleksandr Orlov, Russia’s ambassador in France, said.

Capt. Konstantin Murakhtin said he and fellow pilot Lt. Col. Oleg Peshkov were not given any visual or radio warnings by the Turkish government. He also denied flying into Turkish airspace because the pilots knew the region “like the back of their hand.”

Turkish government officials, though, said the pilots were given numerous warningsbefore the jet was shot down. Wednesday, they released what they said are audio recordings of the warnings.

“This is Turkish Air Force speaking … You are approaching Turkish airspace,” a voice on the recording said.

Turkish officials said the same warning was repeated every 30 seconds for five minutes before they decided to shoot the plane down.

The incident occurred as tensions between Syria and Turkey, and Russia and the United States, continue to be strained. Washington is a vocal advocate of the overthrow of Syrian President Bashar Assad — a regime allied to Moscow.

U.S. officials, who believe the audio recordings are authentic, have supported Turkey’s position in the matter.

A Russian Marine dispatched to rescue the pilots was also killed in the operation. He was aboard a helicopter sent to the area to find the downed pilots.

Officials also announced Wednesday that Russia will deploy to the region its most modern air defense system, the S-400 mobile anti-aircraft missile, which is designed to hit targets at long range.

“I hope that this, along with other measures that we are taking, will be enough to ensure (the safety) of our flights,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday

By Amy R. Connolly and Doug G. Ware

UPI