MOSCOW • Russia's Defence Ministry yesterday publicly opened the black box of a warplane shot down by Turkey last month, a step it hopes will help confirm its assertions that the jet did not stray into Turkish airspace and was maliciously downed.
The incident, which occurred on Nov 24, has prompted Moscow to impose retaliatory economic sanctions on Turkey and has triggered a furious response from President Vladimir Putin, who has repeatedly accused Ankara of "stabbing Russia in the back".
Turkey says the SU-24 fighter-bomber, part of Russia's Syria-based strike force, strayed into its airspace and ignored repeated warnings to leave.
Russia says the plane did not leave Syria and posed no threat to Turkey.
Russian Aerospace Forces Deputy Commander Sergei Dronov said in a news briefing that Russia has proof confirming that the jet did not violate Turkish air space and posed no threat to the country.
"The information we have provided concerning the situation in the area has not been refuted by anyone, including Turkey," he claimed.
Russian experts opened the plane's orange flight recorder yesterday in Moscow in front of reporters and diplomats. Experts from the United States, China and Britain were also present.
Colonel Andrei Semonov, the head of Russian military's information and analytic department, said the device, located near the tail of the plane, had been damaged by the Turkish air-to-air missile as well as by its impact with the ground.
Some of its memory chips were visibly broken in places. Col Semonov said the black box recorded the last 40 minutes of the flight, but three of the eight chips from the flight recorder had been damaged.
Officials said experts would try to analyse its contents over the weekend, with the aid of special equipment, before presenting their findings on Monday.
The Defence Ministry promised that work on deciphering the flight recorder would be conducted in the presence of international observers.
Journalists can watch live images of the process in the hall of the Interstate Aviation Committee, a supervising body overseeing the management of civil aviation in the Commonwealth of Independent States.