A Russian pilot was found alive behind enemy lines after Russian and Syrian forces joined together to perform a rescue mission. The pilot, Cpt Konstantin Murahtin, deployed his parachute after the Russian SU-24 fighter jet was shot down by Turkey after they allegedly entered the country’s airspace. The pilot was rescued after an intense 12-hour mission, and Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed the incident was a “planned provocation” by Turkish leadership.
The Daily Mail reports that Vladimir Putin is calling the actions of Turkey a “stab in the back by accomplices of terrorists,” saying that the country harbors terrorists and is supporting ISIS. Originally, Russian authorities claimed that their fighter jet did not enter Turkish airspace but later admitted they had entered the space for mere seconds. The Russian ambassador to France claimed that the fighter jet was not warned multiple times about the airspace violation and that Turkey shot them down with little notice.
However, the United States government says they are “standing in solidarity” with Turkey, claiming that they have audio recordings of the multiple attempts by Turkey officials to have the Russian fighter jet turn around. To further the case for Turkey, the United States released audio recordings of the warnings, which feature a male voice telling the Russian jet to turn around before it entered Turkey’s airspace. The Russian pilots never respond to the warning and moments later the jet is shot down.
The Turkish government claims that the jet was warned 10 times before the decision was made to shoot the Russian jet from the sky. However, only one of those warnings was released in an audio recording to the public. United States officials have confirmed that multiple attempts were made to have the Russian jet turn around but did not disclose further details.
Video of the downing of the Russian jet surfaced online that showed the two pilots deploying their parachutes before the plane hit the ground. With the parachutes deployed, a rescue mission was formed by the Russian and Syrian forces. The mission took 12 hours, and pilot Cpt Konstantin Murahtin was recovered and is said to be “alive and well.”
However, co-pilot Lt. Col. Oleg Peshkov was not able to be rescued. Turkmen rebels have posted images of the alleged deceased pilot. The group claims they shot the pilot as he attempted to parachute to safety. Though much of NATO is standing with Turkey as they attempt to diffuse the situation, Russia is not backing down regarding their innocence. In fact, Putin and Russian authorities are now pointing fingers at Turkey, noting that they have violated Greek airspace 1,500 times and have never been shot down. Putin also accused the country of supporting ISIS and illegal human organ trade.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says he has “serious doubts” that the downing of the Russian jet was an accident and that Turkey is “home” to many terrorists.
“We have received information that in certain areas of Turkey, where terrorists feel at home, there is even an established market for human organs which are smuggled by terrorists from Syria, and those are body parts of the murdered Syrians.”
Despite the claims that Turkey is harboring terrorists, supporting human organ trade, and shooting down the Russian jet as a “planned provocation,” the United States has remained on Turkey’s side, noting that though both sides are a little to blame for the incident, Russia is constantly pushing its boundaries.
“I do think that this points to an ongoing problem with the Russian operations. In the sense that they are operating very close to a Turkish border, and they are going after moderate opposition that are supported by not only Turkey but a wide range of countries.”
[Photo by Alexei Nikolsky/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP]