This morning, November 24, the Turkish air force shot down the Russian bomber SU-24. The plane crashed on the territory of the Syrian province of Latakia, where there is active fighting forces of the Syrian government and the rebels.
The Russian Defense Ministry immediately recognized that the aircraft belonged to their air group, but the fact that it crossed the air border of Turkey, he denied actively. The Turkish side, conversely, said that the plane was warned for ten times during five minutes that it violated the airspace, and after that crashed. Local media has published a map which contains the flight path of planes parties to conflict.
Pink dots denote Turkish border, and the red and blue indicators show the routes of Russian bombers and the Turkish F-16. According to the map, the Russian plane went slightly over the south of Turkey.
A bit later the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, based in London, reported on a downed Russian helicopter, which accomplished the rescue mission in Latakia to find pilots from earlier downed SU-24. Downed helicopter carried out an emergency landing.
Turkey has called the Russian ambassador, the Kremlin said only that the incident is very serious and it is necessary to wait for the official reasons for the crash. Vladimir Putin himself has called the attack on the plane "stab in the back from the accomplices of terrorists." Does the Russian president called Turkey - NATO member – an accomplice of terrorists?
By the evening, Russia began to respond more actively. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that it’s not recommended to Russians to visit turkey, and one the largest Russian tour operator Natali Tours has suspended to sell tours to turkey. In the Council of Federation and thinks of suspension all contacts with Turkey. Turkish President Erdogan called an emergency meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers and said that the attack on the SU-24 was made exclusively for the defense of the country and was not aimed at any other country.
In Europe, they are talking about the need to prevent the aggravation between Russia and Turkey. As "very serious" the UK named incident. The European Commission assured that they follow the development of the incident closely, and at the United Nations noted that it can seriously affect the situation with fighting terrorists in Syria.
NATO held an extraordinary meeting.
Ukraine also commented on the incident. Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov said that if the airspace of Ukraine violated by military aircraft, we will act similarly as the Turks. It should be noted that Russian troops had already more than a year supporting militants in eastern Ukraine. However, there was no Russian military aircraft on the territory of Ukraine.
The reaction of participants of the conflict and the international community, is predictable in general, which one can’t say about the fate of pilots. To search them, the helicopters were raised, however, are active there are fights on the mainland, and so there is no exact information. It’s said that one is imprisoned by Syrian Turkmen. This ethnic group inhabits the area where the alleged plane fell down. Turkmens Syrian troops actively oppose the government of Bashar Assad, which stands on the side of the Russian air force. Turkey, in turn, has an obligation to protect the Syrian Turkmen and already protested against Russian air strikes on their villages. According to some reports, the pilot could have been killed. Somewhat later, the militants said they killed the captured pilot. Paramilitary group of affiliated with the Free Syrian Army said that even considering the possibility of exchanging the body of the Russian military for their arrested friends.
The co-pilot presumed to be dead. In the Internet the photos and video of the body supposedly deceased pilot are already actively distributed. Their authenticity has not been confirmed. Note, Reuters claims that the video of the dead pilots is genuine. Also, in the network pictures of the alive pilots are being spread. Their authenticity is not confirmed. For example, the group Inform Napalm claims that the dead pilot can be the Major Sergey Rumyantsev.
Allegedly one of the two Russian pilots of downed Su-24. pic.twitter.com/pHHdwU720a— Stork (@NorthernStork) 24 ноября 2015
Allegedly belongings found on the Russian pilot. pic.twitter.com/I4dptRGZ8u— Stork (@NorthernStork) 24 ноября 2015
Military experts mention the fact that the pilots could have survived during the bailout. Thus, a former pilot of the SU-24 bomber under anonymity told the BBC that the ejection systems in modern aircraft are built in such a way that the pilot could be unhurt. "Modern bailouts permit with high probability to leave the plane with minimal damage to health. After the bailout aircrew may stay for a couple of weeks in dispensaries and then return to service. Modern aircrafts are designed in such a way that even when elements hit the plane, pilots stay unhurt – the cabin of the aircraft is armored. In addition, on a video circulated on the Internet, it is noticeable that the jet is not in fire. Therefore, with high probability we can assume that the bailout was successful. Moreover, there are footage to prove it" - said the former pilot.
In addition, Syrian fighters shot down the helicopter, which took off in search of the pilots.
It is worth noting that the authenticity of the video has not been confirmed.
As for the possible courses of action of the Turkish side, many foreign experts are inclined to believe that sooner or later this had to happen. Thus, an expert on the Russian army from the center of the analysis of the foreign policy of Chatham House, Keir Giles, believes that the destruction by Turkey of the Russian aircraft was "more or less inevitable, given the two points." This he also said in comments to the BBC. "Firstly, it is Turkey's very strict rules of engagement in the protection of air space. Second, it's Russian habit to disparage the borders of another's airspace. Such violations occur regularly at the other side of Europe, on the borders of the Baltic States and Northern Europe - Russian planes fly over the border. The difference is that Turkey has taken a very strong position and after several warnings begun to act, "- said Keir Giles.
In this light, it is worth recalling that Russia regularly irritates Turkey with its aircraft. Since September 30, when Russia began its air campaign in Syria, such incidents are not uncommon. In early October, Russia has twice violated the air border of Turkey. The Turkish Foreign Ministry said that the interception was raised by Turkish fighter. In addition, it was reported that the MiG held at a gunpoint eight Turkish F-16s. Then Russia said that the SU-30 blew for a short time because of bad weather. MiG was denied by Russia, but Turkey said they are confident of the Russian track in air.