Yerevan has announced that a Turkish F-16 fighter jet has shot down an Armenian Air Force K-25. This comes three days after a military conflict in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region between Armenia and neighboring Azerbaijan.
Officials in Yerevan said the incident took place in Armenian airspace and the pilot of a Soviet-designed SU-25 was shaken.
Ankara said the attack would help Azerbaijan “repel the Armenian aggression”, with both diplomatic and military support. Armenia has previously said it is ready to use Russian-made Alexander ballistic missiles in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region if Turkey – a member of the US-led NATO bloc – deploys its US-made F-16 fighter jets in support of Azeri.
Turkish presidential spokesman Recep Tayyip Erdogan has denied Yerevan’s claims about Bloomberg. Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry has also denied that a Turkish F-16 jet shot down an Armenian plane.
Senior Azeri defense officials on Monday denied “information” reports that Turkish F-16 fighters were supporting the Azerbaijani army. Also on Monday, Araik Harutionian, leader of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, alleged that local forces had reported it to Turkish F-16. Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry spokesman Wagf Dargahli dismissed the claim as “false and provocative”, adding that “you cannot eliminate what does not exist.” The Armenian government claims that the Turkish F-16 flew from an airbase inside Azerbaijan.
Fighting broke out between Azerbaijan and Azerbaijan on Sunday, with Azeri and ethnic Armenian troops exchanging fire. The Nagorno-Karabakh region is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but is inhabited by ethnic Armenians. Baku believes the enclave has been illegally occupied by Yerevan since the 1988-1994 war. Both sides have accused each other of killing civilians. Longtime rivals are also engaged in a propaganda war, allegedly posting videos showing military hardware that they destroyed on the battlefield.
Baku has repeatedly argued that Turkey is not involved in any hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh. However, Ankara officials have publicly backed the Azeri goal, promising “full support” and urging Yerevan to vacate “occupied” lands.