Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Wednesday that the shooting down of a Russian military aircraft by Turkey may have been a “preplanned provocation”.
“We have serious doubts that this act was unintentional. It looks very much like a preplanned provocation,” Lavrov said in a press conference Wednesday.
Lavrov said Turkey’s failure to maintain proper communication with Russia, along with the abundance of footage of the incident, support his case.
After a phone call with his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu , Lavrov said Moscow is not planning to engage in a war with Turkey.
“We are not planning to wage a war against Turkey. Our attitude towards the Turkish people has not changed,” Lavrov said. “We have questions only for the Turkish leadership.”
The Russian bomber was shot down on Tuesday by Turkish forces along the border between Turkey and Syria. One Russian pilot was killed by ground troops as he parachuted from the aircraft.
However, a second Russian pilot was rescued by Russian and Syrian special forces and is now at the Russian airbase in Latakia, Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu said.
“The rescue operation is successfully over. The pilot has been delivered to our base. Safe and sound,” Shoigu said.
On Wednesday, the Russian ambassador to France Aleksandr Orlov gave details of the two Russian pilots.
“One on board was wounded when he parachuted down and killed in a savage way on the ground by jihadists in the area. The other managed to escape. According to the latest information he has been picked up by the Syrian army and should be going back to the Russian air force base,” the Russian ambassador told local French Radio.
A Russian soldier was killed on a helicopter mission to rescue the two pilots. He died when his helicopter came under fire from Syrian rebels in northern Syria, where the plane crashed.
Russia will deploy the Russian S-400 air-defence missile system to the Hmeymim airbase in Syria, the Russian defence minister said on Wednesday.
As Moscow warned of “serious consequences” resulting from the Turkish attack, NATO stood firmly behind member-state Turkey.
In a phone call between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and United States President Barack Obama, the two agreed on the need to “defuse tension”, according to a statement from the Turkish presidency.
Obama and Erdogan “agreed on the importance of avoiding similar incidents,” the statement read.
Obama confirmed that the US and the NATO back the right of Turkey to defend its sovereignty.
NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg backed the Turkish version of the story, saying “our evaluation matches the information we received from Turkey”.
Russian Prime Minister Dimity Medvedev described the incident on Wednesday, saying it was a “criminal action”.
He said the incident has put additional pressure on relations between Russia and NATO. “It’s the dangerous worsening of relations between Russia and NATO, which cannot be justified by any interests, including the protection of state borders,” he said.
“Turkey has demonstrated by its actions, in fact, the protection of the militants of the Islamic State terrorist group,” Medvedev added.
He said he was not surprised, taking into account the available information about the direct financial interest of some Turkish officials linked with the supply of petroleum products produced by “Islamic State”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier described the incident as “a stab in the back” from Turkey, saying it will have “serious consequences” for Russia’s relations with Turkey.