Russian President Vladimir Putin has described the loss of the Ilyushin-20 plane over the Mediterranean as a result of a string of tragic circumstances and offered condolences to the victims’ relatives, TASS reports.
"When people get killed, particularly so, in such tragic circumstances, it is always a great misfortune to us, to the country and to the relatives of our late comrades. I offer condolences first and foremost to the relatives of those killed," Putin said at a news conference following Russian-Hungarian talks. "As for comparison with the well-known events (the attack on a Russian plane), when a Turkish fighter jet shot down our plane, it was a different situation. This time it looks like a string of tragic circumstances."
Putin recalled that in the tragic incident he had mentioned "a Turkish plane deliberately downed our plane." In Monday’s evening incident "Israeli planes did not shoot down our plane," he remarked.
"It goes without saying that we must delve into this matter in earnest. Our attitude to this tragedy is contained in the Defense Ministry’s statement, which was fully agreed with me," Putin said.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told the media on Tuesday that at about 22:00 on September 17 four F-16 fight jets of the Israeli Air Force attacked Syrian facilities in the area of Latakia with guided bombs. The planes had approached the targets from the Mediterranean at low altitudes. The Russian Defense Ministry said the Israeli planes used the Russian plane as a cover, thus exposing it to Syrian air defense fire. The Ilyushin-20, with its reflecting surface being far greater than that of the F-16, was shot down by a missile launched with the S-200 system. All of the Russian plane’s 15 crewmembers were killed.