Turkey will not apologize for downing a Russian fighter jet it says violated Turkish airspace near the Syrian border, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in an exclusive CNN interview Thursday in Ankara. "I think if there is a party that needs to apologize, it is not us," he said from the Turkish capital. "Those who violated our airspace are the ones who need to apologize. Our pilots and our armed forces, they simply fulfilled their duties, which consisted of responding to ... violations of the rules of engagement. I think this is the essence." In a meeting with community leaders in Ankara, Erdogan said, "If the same violation occurs today, Turkey has to react the same way." Turkey has repeatedly said it shot down the Russian warplane on Tuesday only after it ignored several warnings and entered Turkish airspace. Russia has contested the claim, and its rescued co-pilot Capt. Konstantin Murakhtin told state media that "there were no warnings -- not via the radio, not visually." Turkey's military has released audio it says proves its claim; Russia has yet to address the audio. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the Russian plane was attacked a kilometer inside Syrian territory, while Erdogan says it crashed in Turkey, injuring two people.
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