Azerbaijan Foreign Ministry announced late Monday that its forces “accidentally” shot down a Mi-24 helicopter belonging to the Russian Army.
A Russian Mi-24 military helicopter with RF-91855 tail number has been shot down over Armenia, near the border with Azerbaijan, killing two crew members, the Russian defense ministry says.
“On November 9, at about 17:30 Moscow time, a Russian Mi-24 helicopter came under fire from the ground from a man-portable air-defense system when accompanying a vehicle convoy of the 102nd Russian military base on the territory of the Republic of Armenia in the airspace close to the Armenian settlement of Yeraskh near the border with the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic (the Republic of Azerbaijan),” the Russian Defense Ministry stated.
“Two crew members were killed, one was evacuated with moderate injuries to the home air base,” the ministry added.
In a statement, Azerbaijan apologised, offering to pay compensation.
“The Azerbaijani side offers an apology to the Russian side in connection with this tragic incident,” the foreign ministry said in a statement on Monday, adding the move was an accident and “not aimed against” Moscow.
In the statement, Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry said the Russian Mi-24 was shot down at 18:30 local time “on the Nakhchivan section of the Armenia-Azerbaijan state border”.
The Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic is Azerbaijan’s western landlocked exclave, bordering Armenia, Iran and Turkey.
Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry said the helicopter had been flying at a low altitude during hours of darkness, and outside “the air defence radar detection zone”.
It said that “Russian Air Force helicopters have not been seen in the specified area before”.
In the context of these and other factors, “the combat crew on duty took the decision to open fire,” the statement said.
The Russian defence ministry said its Mi-24 was shot down by a missile as it was accompanying a column of vehicles belonging to the 102nd Russian military base.
It said this happened near the town of Yeraskh. The helicopter lost control and crashed in a mountainous area on Armenian territory.
The Russia foreign ministry later tweeted: “We regard positively the fact that Baku recognised that it was to blame without delay.”
It also said that Azerbaijan had pledged to carry out a speedy investigation
It comes amid fierce fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenian separatists for Nagorno-Karabakh. But the helicopter was not downed near those clashes.