Turkish fighter jets shot down a Russian war plane Tuesday, marking the first time a NATO country has shot down a Russian plane since the 1950s.
According to reports, Turkey issued multiple warnings to the Russian plane that it was violating Turkish air space. Russia, however, said it could not yet prove the jet had left Syrian air space.
A Russian spokesman said it was a “very serious incident,” but that it was too early to draw any conclusions.
In a statement by the Turkish Ambassador to the U.S., Serdar Kilic, said, “Understand this: Turkey is a country whose warning should be taken seriously and listened to. Don’t test Turkey’s patience. Try to win its friendship.”
According to Russia’s defense ministry, the plane was a Su-24 fighter jet and preliminary information indicates that the pilots were able to eject. Russia claimed the aircraft had been over Syria for the duration of its flight.
Turkish military officials offer a different story suggesting the Russian aircraft had been warned 10 times about violating Turkish airspace. Officials said a second plane had also approached the border and been warned.
“The data we have is very clear. There were two planes approaching our border, we warned them as they were getting too close,” a senior Turkish official told Reuters.
“We warned them to avoid entering Turkish airspace before they did, and we warned them many times. Our findings show clearly that Turkish airspace was violated multiple times. And they violated it knowingly,” the Turkish official said.
CNN reports that at 9:24 a.m. local time the Russian airplane crashed in the mountains of Syria near the Turkish border.
According CNN who spoke with a rebel group in Syria, the group shot and killed one of the pilots after he had ejected. The fate of the other pilot as of now is unknown.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called the incident a “stab in the back.”
Follow Steve on Twitter