Downed jet: Putin, Erdogan both demand apologies

Russian investigators checking debris on Nov 1, 2015, from a crashed Russian jet in Sinai, Egypt.
Russian investigators checking debris on Nov 1, 2015, from a crashed Russian jet in Sinai, Egypt. PHOTO: EPA

ANKARA • Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have demanded apologies from each other over Turkey's downing of a Russian jet near the Syrian border, as a spat between their countries escalated, with both sides in a war of words.

Mr Putin had yesterday said that Russia had not received any apology from Turkish leaders.

But Mr Erdogan was quoted as saying on the CNN website: "Those who violated our airspace are the ones who need to apologise."

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu vowed that Ankara would not apologise to Moscow. "We don't need to apologise on an occasion that we are right," he said yesterday.

"But we said on the phone yesterday (Wednesday) that we are sorry," he added, referring to a phone conversation with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

In another point of contention, Turkey yesterday released an audio recording of what it said were repeated warnings to the pilot before the jet was shot down. According to the recording aired in Turkish media but not independently verified, the Turks said: "This is Turkish air force speaking - on guard. You're approaching Turkish airspace."

It contradicts the claim of the jet's navigator Konstantin Murakhtin, who said there had been no warning before the missile slammed into it, giving him and the pilot no time to dodge. "There were no warnings from either the radio channel or visually. There was no contact at all," he told Interfax news agency.

"There was not even a threat of crossing into Turkey."

Meanwhile, in the first public move to curb trade in the dispute, Russia increased checks on food and agriculture imports from Turkey, the Agriculture Ministry said yesterday.

And Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev ordered his government to draw up measures that would include freezing some joint investment projects.

He also alleged that Turkish officials were benefiting from oil sales to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria - a claim angrily denied by Mr Erdogan, who yesterday insisted his country does not buy any oil from the militant group.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 27, 2015, with the headline 'Downed jet: Putin, Erdogan both demand apologies'. Print Edition | Subscribe