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Surviving Russian pilot claims he was not in Turkish airspace

The Russian pilot who survived the downing of his aircraft Tuesday has said Turkey gave no warning they were about to shoot the plane down. He added that the jet could not have violated Turkish airspace, even though Turkey claims it did.

Captain Konstantin Murakhtin was one of two pilots whose Su-24 was shot down near the Turkish-Syrian border Tuesday. Russia claims the plane was in Syrian airspace at the time, while Turkey maintains that the aircraft strayed into their airspace, and was warned several times to leave. Tensions between the two countries have increased following the incident.

Both Murakhtin and the other pilot, Lt Col Oleg Peshkov, ejected from the plane after it was hit by an F-16. Peshkov was killed by gunfire on his descent, however Murakhtin was rescued by Russian special forces early Wednesday morning.

Following his rescue, Murakhtin spoke on Russian television from Hmeymim airbase in northern Syria. The pilot said he is extremely familiar with the area he flies and would have known if he had crossed into Turkish airspace. The Turkish military, meanwhile, has released a recording of what it says are a series of warnings to the Russian jet to change course.

Russia and Turkey are on opposing sides in the conflict over Syria. Russia supports president Bashar al-Assad, whereas Turkey wants him overthrown. Russia and Turkey are apparently both involved in a campaign against the Islamic State in Syria, however, the U.S. claims that Russia has been targeting rebel forces that threaten Assad, not just ISIS. Additionally, as part of this campaign, Russia has strayed into Turkish airspace in the past and has also bombed ethnic Turkmen villages in Syria close to the Turkish borders.

Following this latest incident, Russia has said that its fighter jets will escort bombers over Syria.

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