MOSCOW (ABC News)—The co-pilot of the Russian bomber shot down by Turkish jets on the Syrian border has said he received no warnings before the plane was fired on.
The co-pilot, Captain Konstantin Murakhtin, spoke to the Russian state news agency Sputnik at military base in Syria, where he was brought after being rescued by the Russian military overnight.
“There were no warnings. Not via the radio, not visually. There was no contact whatsoever,” Murakhtin told Sputnik.
Murakhtin and his pilot, Lieutenant-colonel Oleg Peshkov, were shot down on the Syrian-Turkish border by Turkish F16 fighters on Tuesday morning. Both men ejected but Peshkov was killed by Syrian rebels, according to Russian defense officials. Turkey has said the men’s Su-24 jet was downed because it violated Turkish airspace, a claim Russia has disputed.
The co-pilot’s comments disputed the Turkish version of how the shoot-down occurred. Turkish officials have said that the Russian plane was warned multiple times it was approaching Turkish airspace and to alter its course, saying that it received 10 warnings in five minutes. Russia’s defense ministry has disputed this, saying no warning was given and that the plane never crossed into Turkish airspace.
Murakhtin said that no attempt at all was made to warn the Russian crew.
“You have to understand what the cruising speed of a bomber is compared to an F-16. If they wanted to warn us, they could have shown themselves by heading on a parallel course. But there was nothing,” he said. “The rocket hit our tail completely unexpectedly. We didn’t even see it in time to take evasive maneuvers.”
A U.S. military spokesman previously told ABC News that recordings of audio channels used between the two planes proved that 10 warnings had been given. NATO has also said that it backs the Turkish version events.
Murakhtin, who was the plane’s navigator, also insisted that the plane at no point crossed the border into Turkey.
“Of course, having carried out numerous flights there we knew the region like the backs of our hands.” He said that they had been following a usual, predetermined route when they were hit.
“I’m a navigator, I know every altitude there. I can guide the aircraft there blindfolded,” co-pilot said.