Editor’s note: Russia’s probable response to the release of the Turkish recording of multiple warnings to the Russian pilot is predictable.
It’s embedded in their Information Warfare DNA:
- Deny, deny, deny
- Produce a recording of a Russian pilot, and a pitifully bad Turkish speaker playing the part of a Turkish air controller, stating ‘thank you for avoiding Turkish airspace!’ Of course the speakers will sound like they are reading from a script.
- Putin will claim, once again, that Russia is the victim. ‘Russia will respond with the harshest of actions’.
- Russia will respond with the mildest of reactions.
I’m only surprised Putin has not picked up on the Hillary Clinton phrase (from 1998), and has not said ‘A vast Western conspiracy!’
On the original website, the audio is available (link at the bottom). “Guard” refers to the Guard Frequency, the aircraft emergency frequency, which is supposed to be monitored by all aircraft. Russian civilian aircraft monitor this frequently, if this particular aircraft did not, they were just plain wrong. I did a fairly extensive online search for Su-24 and Black Box and Flight Recorder. Zero, zip, nada. This intrigued me, so I pushed further.
I asked an aviation expert about Su-24 Black Boxes, if they have them. His answer:
Never known Russian fighters to carry them. Moreover I looked for data on radios to see if they have capability to use NATO/ICAO spec VHF AM 121.5 MHz and UHF AM 243 MHz but could find no data.
It looks like Russian Su-24s might not even monitor the Guard Frequency. Both Turkey and Russia may be telling the truth.
Again, my aviation expert, when I specifically asked about Russians and the Guard Frequency:
They might not have had capability to monitor Guard. They may not have had procedure to monitor Guard. They made have been ordered not to monitor Guard. They may not have had sufficient English language skills to monitor Guard …..
All likely irrelevant as they were baiting the Turks. Never bait the Turks, they have no sense of humour when it comes to matters of honour.
Somebody needs to ask Russia, point blank, do you monitor the Guard Frequency, and how? This is a simple question which may have a strategic impact.
Turkish military releases recording of warning to Russian jet
Surviving crew member of downed plane is rescued in 12-hour mission and says there were no warnings
The Turkish military has released what it says is an audio recording of a warning it gave to a Russian fighter jet before the aircraft was shot down near the Syrian border, hours after the surviving Russian crew member insisted there had been no contact.
A voice on the Turkish recording can be heard saying “change your heading”. But Konstantin Murakhtin, a navigator who was rescued in a joint operation by Syrian and Russian commandos, told Russian media: “There were no warnings, either by radio or visually. There was no contact whatsoever.”
He also denied entering Turkish airspace. “I could see perfectly on the map and on the ground where the border was and where we were. There was no danger of entering Turkey,” he said.
The apparent hardening of both countries’ versions of events came as Russian warplanes carried out heavy raids in Syria’s northern Latakia province, where the plane came down. Tuesday’s incident – the first time a Nato member state has shot down a Russian warplane since the Korean war – risks provoking a clash over the ongoing conflict in Syria, where Russia has intervened to prop up the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
A Turkish official said his country stood by its version of events. The Turkish military has said it delivered multiple warnings to the plane as it neared the border and shot it down after it entered the southern province of Hatay. “We shared concrete evidence of airspace violation with relevant international bodies,” the official said. “From where we stand, there’s nothing to discuss.”
Turkey’s military said on Wednesday night that it invited Russian military attaches to its headquarters and explained that the plane was shot down because its rules of engagement went into effect after the jet did not respond to warnings.
In a written statement, the Turkish armed forces said it had made great efforts to find and rescue the pilots of the plane and that it had also called military authorities in Moscow and expressed readiness for “all kinds of cooperation”.
Russian officials said earlier that Murakhtin, one of two airmen who ejected from the downed Su-24, was “alive and well” after a 12-hour rescue operation succeeded. The second airman was killed by gunfire from the ground, apparently from Syrian Turkmen fighters.
The Russian agency LifeNews said Murakhtin was found by an 18-man Syrian special forces team. It said he had hidden for many hours after landing, and was found by a radio signal.
A military source from the Syrian government said: “Special operations units from the Syrian Arab army conducted last night a special operation in which it penetrated areas where the terrorists are present and was able to rescue one of the pilots of the Russian plane.”
Speaking on Russian television after his rescue, Murakhtin said he knew the area where his plane came down “like the back of my hand”. He was receiving medical treatment and said he wanted to stay in Syria and continue flying missions.
The dead pilot was named by Russia as Lieutenant Colonel Oleg Peshkov. One of the rescue helicopters sent to search for the men was hit by rebel fire, forcing it to make an emergency landing. One of the marines on board, Alexander Pozynich, was killed.
Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, said Peshkov would be awarded the country’s highest military honour, the Hero of Russia award. The Order of Courage would be awarded to Murakhtin and posthumously to Pozynich.
Russia has repeatedly said its plane did not enter Turkish airspace. On Tuesday Putin said the downing of the plane was a “stab in the back by the accomplices of terrorists” and promised “serious consequences”.
Turkey said the plane entered its airspace for 17 seconds, in what it said was the latest in a string of provocative attacks on Ankara-backed Turkmen fighters close to the Turkish border. Last Friday the Turkish foreign ministry summoned Russia’s ambassador to complain about the incursions.
The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, repeated his insistence that the Russian jet was in Turkish airspace when it was shot down and said parts of the wreckage fell into Turkey, injuring two people. Ankara had no wish to escalate the incident and was only defending “our own security and the rights of our brothers” in Syria, he said.
The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said he had spoken to his Turkish counterpart for around an hour on Wednesday. He said the attack looked like a “pre-planned provocation”, and even if Turkish claims that the plane had strayed into Turkish airspace proved to be correct, there were no grounds for shooting it down.
Later, in a telephone call with John Kerry, the US secretary of state, Lavrov said Turkey’s actions were a “gross violation” of an agreement between Moscow and Washington on air space safety over Syria. The state department said Kerry called for calm and more dialogue between Turkish and Russian officials.
In Moscow, a crowd of youths gathered outside the Turkish embassy and threw rocks. Some of the ground-floor windows in the building were broken. Police at the scene did not make arrests, according to witnesses.
Russian officials made it clear that despite the fury the reaction would be measured. There is no talk of a military response, and no suggestion that diplomatic relations could be cut or the Turkish ambassador expelled from Moscow. However, the tone of relations between the two countries is likely to change dramatically.
Lavrov cancelled a visit to Istanbul planned for Wednesday, and recommended Russian citizens not travel to Turkey because of the terrorist threat.
Russia’s state tourism agency said it was banning all tour operators from offering holidays in Turkey. There has been no suggestion of cutting air links, but anysuch move would hurt the Turkish economy. About four million Russians a year visit Turkey, mainly for tourism.
A Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, hit out at the US state department official Mark Toner, who said the Turkmen fighters who shot the Russian airman as he parachuted to the ground could have been acting in self defence. “Remember these words, remember them forever. I will never forget them, I promise,” Zakharova wrote on Facebook.
Also on Wednesday, Russia announced it would send its latest air-defence system, the S-400, to its base at Latakia to back up Russian air operations in Syria. The defence ministry has vowed to continue its strikes on Islamic State. Moscow says it is fighting Isis, but western capitals have said the majority of the strikes appear to be targeting other groups.
Moscow and the west are still at odds over whether Assad is part of the problem or the solution to the Syrian crisis. The French president, François Hollande, will travel to Moscow on Thursday for meetings with Putin to discuss coordinating action to fight Isis.
Activists said there were ongoing clashes on Wednesday in the northern Latakia countryside where the plane fell, as well as airstrikes by either Russian or Syrian warplanes. Jahed Ahmad, a spokesman for a rebel brigade in the region affiliated with the Free Syrian Army, said the Russians appeared to be taking revenge for the plane’s downing by Turkey and were providing cover for advancing Syrian ground forces and their Lebanese Hezbollah allies.
The area has long been a flashpoint of battles between the Syrian government and an alliance of rebels that includes Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaida’s wing in Syria. The region straddles the Syrian-Turkish border that separates Latakia and Hatay in southern Turkey. The city of Latakia is one of the Assad regime’s redoubts and a key part of its sphere of control in western Syria.
The Syrian military said in a statement that Turkey’s downing of the Russian plane was a “blatant attack on Syrian sovereignty”. It said: “This confirms without a doubt that the Turkish government stands by terrorism.”
Turkey has long opposed the Assad regime and has backed rebel groups bent on overthrowing him. The country hosts two million Syrian refugees and shares a long border with its southern neighbour.