YEKATERINBURG, November 25. /TASS/. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday that Turkey’s actions to down the Russian Air Force Sukhoi Su-24 plane in Syria were criminal. The prime minister commented to reporters on the events on arrival in Yekaterinburg, after a many-day tour of Southeast Asia.
"The recklessly criminal actions of the Turkish authorities that downed Russia’s aircraft have three consequences," he said. "First — it’s the dangerous worsening of relations between Russia and NATO, which cannot be justified by any interests, including protection of the state borders. Second — Turkey has demonstrated by its actions, in fact, the protection of the militants of the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group. That is not surprising, taking into account the available information about the direct financial interest of some Turkish officials linked with the supply of petroleum products produced at enterprises held by IS."
"And third, the longstanding good-neighborly relations between Russia and Turkey, including in the economy and humanitarian spheres have been undermined," Medvedev said. "This damage will be difficult to repair — its direct consequence may be the cessation of a number of important joint projects and the loss by Turkish companies of their positions on the Russian market."
On November 24, a Russian Su-24 frontline bomber was downed by an air-to-air missile launched from a Turkish F-16 fighter jet when it was returning from an anti-terrorist mission to the Hmeimim airbase in Syria. The warplane was at an altitude of 6,000 meters at a distance on one kilometer from the Turkish border. The Russian Defense Ministry said earlier that pilots had managed to eject from the aircraft. Their whereabouts were being established.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said the downed Su-24 was no threat to Turkey as it was on a mission to bomb Islamic State targets. "It was a stab in the back," Putin said. The Russian president warned that attack on the Russian warplane would have "serious consequences" for the Russian-Turkish relations.
However, Ankara claims that the plane violated the country’s airspace.
Meanwhile, chief of the main operations department of the Russian General Staff Sergei Rudskoy told journalists on Tuesday that "presumably, the plane was hit by a short-range missile with an infra-red seeker. Objective monitoring devices registered no attempts by the Turkish plane to establish radio or visual contact with our crew. The Su-24 plane was hit by a missile over Syria’s territory. It fell down in the Syrian territory four kilometers off the border." "The Su-24 was hit by a missile over Syria," Rudskoy stressed. "It fell down in Syrian territory four kilometers off the border. "The pilots ejected themselves from the aircraft. According to preliminary information, one of the pilots was killed in midair by fire from the ground."
"According to accurate data of objective monitoring, our plane did not cross the Turkish border," he said. "It is confirmed by the data from Syria’s missile defense system. Moreover, the Hmeimim airfield’s radar surveillance data registered violation of the Syria airspace by the attacking Turkish jet."
This fact is seen as a flagrant violation of international law entailing most serious consequences and a direct violation of the memorandum on preventing incidents and ensuring flight security in Syria signed with the United States and applicable to all states of the US-led coalition, including Turkey, he stressed, adding that apparently that was the reason why Turkey had begun emergency consultations with NATO instead of contacting the Russian Defense Ministry.
"A resolute protest has been raised by Turkey’s military attache in Russia over Turkey’s actions leading to the loss of our warplane," Rudskoy said. "From the very beginning of the operation, we established direct telephone contact between Russia’s national defense management center and Turkey’s defense ministry but it yielded no practical results through the fault of the Turkish side," he said.