Russia Denies Lavrov Will Meet Turkish Counterpart in Coming Days

Erdogan: Turkey has no intention of escalating incident, policy in Syria won't change; One pilot died while other is rescued and safe on Russian base in Syria.

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Vladimir Putin, Russia's president, pauses during a news conference alongside Hassan Rouhani, Iran's president, not pictured, at the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) summit in Tehran, Iran, on Monday, Nov. 23, 2015. The talks between Putin, on his first visit to Iran since 2007, and Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei focused on the situation in Syria, where both Russia and Iran back Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as well as the wider region.
Russian President Vladimir Putin in Tehran, Iran, Nov. 23, 2015.Credit: Bloomberg
The Associated Press

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday Russia did not intend to wage a war against Turkey after its air force shot down a Russian jet near the Turkish border with Syria. 

"We do not intend to wage a war on Turkey. Our attitude to the Turkish people has not changed. We have questions over the action of Turkey's current leadership," Lavrov told a news conference. 

Lavrov, who cancelled a trip to Istanbul scheduled for Wednesday, said Russia viewed the downing as a planned act and Moscow would "seriously reconsider" its relations with Ankara. 

When asked if future talks were being prepared, Lavrov said there were no plans to send any officials to Turkey and that Moscow did not plan to host any Turkish visits. 

The surviving crew member of a Russian fighter jet shot down by Turkey said on Wednesday the plane received no warnings from the Turkish Air Force and did not fly over Turkish air space, Russian news agencies reported. 

Audio of Turkish warning to Russian jet before shooting it down.

According to a Turkish foreign ministry spokesman, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Lavrov agreed to meet in the coming days in a phone call Wednesday. "In their discussion, agreement was reached to share details on the matter via diplomatic and military channels," spokesman Tanju Bilgic said in an e-mailed statement.

Turkey shot down the warplane near the Syrian border on Tuesday, saying the jet had repeatedly violated its air space, in one of the most serious publicly acknowledged clashes between a NATO member country and Russia for half a century.

Earlier Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that one of the pilots from the downed jet had been safe. Putin was speaking in televised comments after Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told Russian news agencies that the man was rescued in a 12-hour operation which ended in the early hours on Wednesday and is now "safe and sound" at Russia's air base in the government-controlled area in Syria. The other pilot of the Su-24 jet was reported dead.

Earlier, Russia's envoy to France Alexandre Orlov told Europe 1 radio  that one of pilots had been picked up by the Syrian army and was being taken to Russia's base there. He said the second pilot had been killed " in a savage way on the ground by the jihadists."

On Tuesday, Turkish TV broadcast a recording from the communications network of the Turkish air force in which the pilots of the downed Russian jet were asked to change direction.

Meanwhile, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that Turkey did not want any escalation after it shot down a Russian fighter jet, saying it had acted simply to defend its own security and the "rights of our brothers" in Syria.

Speaking at a business event in Istanbul, Erdogan said the jet had been fired at while in Turkish air space but had crashed inside Syria, although some parts of the plane landed in Turkey and injured two Turkish citizens.

"We have no intention of escalating this incident. We are only defending our own security and the rights of our brothers," Erdogan said, adding Turkey's policy in Syria would not change.

"We will continue our humanitarian efforts on both sides of the (Syrian) border. We are determined to take all necessary measures to prevent a new wave of immigration."

'Stab in the back'

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the plane had been attacked when it was 1 km inside Syria and warned of "serious consequences" for what he termed a stab in the back administered by "the accomplices of terrorists."

Russia responded harshly to the downing of its jet, announcing it will move an advanced defense system to the Syrian port of Latakia not far from the fractured country's northern maritime border with Turkey. The Russian Defense Ministry also said that it was suspending military coordination with Turkey in response.

A U.S. official told Reuters on Tuesday that Washington believed the jet was hit inside Syrian air space after a brief incursion into Turkey, an assessment based on detection of the heat signature of the aircraft.

But Turkey, in a letter to the UN Security Council, said it shot down the jet in its air space. Along with a second plane, the aircraft flew more than a mile into Turkey for 17 seconds despite being warned 10 times while approaching to change direction, the letter said.

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