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Turkey's Planned Provocation of Russia

Updated December 4, 2015 


Russian honor guard carry the coffin with the body of Russian Lt. Col. Oleg Peshkov, after being transported from Turkey, at a mourning ceremony in Chkalovsky military airport outside Moscow. November 30.

“We have serious doubts this was an unintended incident and believe this is a planned provocation.” 
- Sergey Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister, November 25, 2015

"There were no warnings. Not via the radio, not visually. There was no contact whatsoever... If they wanted to warn us, they could have shown themselves by heading on a parallel course. But there was nothing. And the rocket hit our tail completely unexpectedly. We didn't even see it in time to take evasive maneuvers."
- Captain Konstantin Murakhtin, flight navigator of the Russian Sukhoi Su-24 bomber shot down by a Turkish fighter

Sergey Rudskoy, a top official with the Russian General Staff, condemned the attack on the Russian bomber in Syrian airspace by a Turkish fighter jet as “a severe violation of international law”. Rudskoy stressed that the Su-24 was downed over Syrian territory. Rudskoy said the Russian warplane did not violate Turkish airspace. According to the Hmeymim airfield radar, it was the Turkish fighter jet that actually entered Syrian airspace as it attacked the Russian bomber.
Russia Today, November 24, 2015


A Russian SU-24, like the plane that the Turkish military shot down over Syria.

 
The Russian plane after being shot down by Turkish F-16 fighter jets over Syria.


Both Russian pilots parachuted safely from the plane. One was shot by rebels as he fell to the Earth. His crewmate was reported to have been rescued in good condition and returned to the Russian base.

This event is beyond the normal framework of fighting against terrorism. Of course our military is doing heroic work against terrorism... But the loss today is a stab in the back, carried out by the accomplices of terrorists. I can’t describe it in any other way.
- Vladimir Putin, in Sochi, November 24, 2015

"THE ACCOMPLICES OF TERRORISTS"

The shooting down of a Russian bomber jet is a clear provocation by Turkey against Russia. Turkish military claims that it had warned the Russian plane 10 times in five minutes simply do not make sense when we consider the tiny sliver of Turkish territory that the plane is said to have crossed. 

As the New York Times reported:

The Turkish military did not identify the nationality of the plane but said in a statement on its website that its pilots fired only after repeated warnings to the other warplane.

“The aircraft entered Turkish airspace over the town of Yaylidag, in the southeastern Hatay province,” the statement read. “The plane was warned 10 times in the space of 5 minutes before it was taken down.”

As the Guardian reported:

The Turkish military said it scrambled two F-16 fighter jets after a plane penetrated Turkish airspace in the province of Hatay at 9.20am on Tuesday morning, warning it to leave 10 times in five minutes before it was shot down.

Radar tracks, supposedly from the Russian bomber, reportedly released by the Turkish military, show a track crossing a very small sliver of Turkish territory sticking into Syria.  If this is truly the track of the Russian plane it would have only been in Turkish airspace for a few seconds - nowhere near the five minutes it was supposedly warned by the Turks.  

Furthermore, this data is not complete because we don't see the radar tracks of the Turkish fighters nor do we know where the Russian jet was fired on.  For that matter, we can't even be sure that this is correct data for the Russian jet. The Turkish military is, after all, the party responsible for the downing of the jet.

If the Turkish jets fired on the Russian bomber as it crossed the tiny sliver that juts into Syria it would seem that the Turkish move is more of a provocation than a legitimate act of defense.  Where were the Turkish jets all this time?  Were they in Turkish or Syrian airspace? Where was the Russian jet during the five minutes it was supposedly warned by the Turkish fighters?


"Flight radar track on downed warplane issued by Turkish military"
Source:
  twitter.com/CNNTURK_ENG/status/669098577524822016/photo/1


The data from the Turkish military apparently shows that the Russian plane was shot down as it transited (from East to West; 
giriş means entry; çıkış means exit) a narrow finger of Turkish land less than 2 miles wide. The Russian plane would have crossed this sliver of land in about 12 seconds; nowhere near the five minutes claimed by the Turkish military statement. But did the Russian plane even enter Turkish airspace?


The radar track provided by the Turkish military with a map laid over. The red line is the border between Turkey (above the line) and Syria (below the line). The Turkish military statement, “The aircraft entered Turkish airspace over the town of Yaylidag," does not match the radar data seen here. Yayladağı is the town on the yellow line in Turkey. At no point in this radar track does the Russian plane fly above Yayladağı.


THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY - Russian radar data from their base in Syria shows a much different story, with the Turkish jet (blue line) firing on the Russian plane (red line) in Syria. According to this radar track the Russian plane never even entered Turkish airspace, which makes sense. Why would Russia violate Turkish airspace? Source (click to view the radar loop): pbs.twimg.com/tweet_video/CUmhK33WEAAEKcb.mp4


This graphic from the New York Times compares the two radar tracks of the Russian bomber: the Turkish military track is in purple; the Russian in red. NATO, as one might expect, claims the Turkish radar track is correct, but is it?  Why would Russia violate Turkish airspace?  It makes no sense, like the rest of the Turkish story. If Turkey is lying then NATO is also lying.

The two Russian pilots both ejected from the plane safely.  One was evidently killed by rebels who fired on them as they parachuted to the ground. The other was rescued and returned to the Russian base.

Sergey Rudskoy, a top official with the Russian General Staff, condemned the attack on the Russian plane in Syrian airspace by a Turkish fighter jet as “a severe violation of international law”.  Rudskoy stressed that the Su-24 was downed over Syrian territory. The crash site was four kilometers away from the Turkish border, he said.

Rudskoy said the Russian warplane did not violate Turkish airspace. According to the Hmeymim airfield radar (Russian base), it was the Turkish fighter jet that actually entered Syrian airspace as it attacked the Russian bomber. This is a crucial point. 

The Turkish fighter jet made no attempts to contact Russian pilots before attacking the bomber, Rudskoy added.

“We assume the strike was carried out with a close range missile with an infra-red seeker,” Rudskoy said. “The Turkish jet made no attempts to communicate or establish visual contact with our crew that our equipment would have registered. The Su-24 was hit by a missile over Syria’s territory.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke about the incident in the early afternoon:

This event is beyond the normal framework of fighting against terrorism. Of course our military is doing heroic work against terrorism... But the loss today is a stab in the back, carried out by the accomplices of terrorists. I can’t describe it in any other way. Our aircraft was downed over the territory of Syria, using air-to-air missile from a Turkish F-16. It fell on the Syrian territory 4km from Turkey.

Neither our pilots nor our jet threatened the territory of Turkey. This is obvious. They are fighting terrorists in the northern areas around Latakia, where militants are located, mainly people who originated in Russia, and they were pursuing their direct duty, to make sure these people do not return to Russia. These are people who are clearly international terrorists.

Taking into account that we signed an agreement on deconflicting with the US, and as we know Turkey was among the ones that has joined the US coalition. Since Isis has such huge resources of hundreds of millions and billions of dollars coming from illicit oil sales, and they are protected by the armed forces of other states, then it’s clear why they are so brazen, why they are killing people, why they are carrying out terrorist attacks throughout the world including in the heart of Europe.

We will analyse everything, and today’s tragic event will have significant consequences, including for Russia-Turkish relations. We have always treated Turkey as a friendly state. I don’t know who was interested in what happened today, certainly not us. And instead of immediately getting in contact with us, as far as we know, the Turkish side immediately turned to their partners from Nato to discuss this incident, as if we shot down their plane and not they ours.
- Vladimir Putin, in Sochi, November 24, 2015

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Sources:  

"Putin calls Turkey 'accomplices of terrorists' after Russian jet shot down" by Matthew Weaver, Guardian (UK), November 24, 2015
www.theguardian.com/world/live/2015/nov/24/russian-jet-downed-by-turkish-planes-near-syrian-border-live-updates#block-56545c41e4b00f67a4bed947

"Russia deploys missile cruiser off Syria coast, ordered to destroy any target posing danger," Russia Today (RT.com), November 24, 2015
www.rt.com/news/323329-russia-suspend-military-turkey/

"Sorting Out What Russia and Turkey Say Happened in the Sky," New York Times, November 24, 2015
www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/11/24/world/middleeast/russia-turkey-jet-shoot-down-maps.html

"Su-24 navigator rules out possibility of plane having entered Turkey" by Igor Rozin, Russia Behind the Headlines, November 25, 2015
rbth.com/international/2015/11/25/su-24-navigator-rules-out-posibility-of-plane-having-entered-turkey_544413

"Turkey downs Russian warplane near Syria border," Guardian (UK), November 24, 2015
www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/24/turkey-shoots-down-jet-near-border-with-syria

"Turkey Shoots Down Russian Warplane Near Syrian Border" by Ceylan Yeginsu and Ivan Nechepurenkonov, New York Times, November 24, 2015
www.nytimes.com/2015/11/25/world/europe/turkey-syria-russia-military-plane.html 


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