LIPETSK, Russia (Reuters) - A Russian pilot killed after his plane was shot down by a Turkish jet last week was buried in the Russian city of Lipetsk on Wednesday with military honors, after being posthumously given the country’s highest military award.
The downing of Oleg Peshkov’s plane on Nov. 24 near the Syrian-Turkish border has triggered a tense standoff between Russia and NATO member Turkey and Moscow has imposed a raft of economic sanctions on Ankara in retaliation.
Russian defense officials said Peshkov managed to eject from his stricken plane only to be killed by ground fire from militants inside Syria. His navigator survived, but a Russian marine was killed during the rescue mission.
Fellow air force officers carried the coffin with Peshkov’s body to his grave in a snow-swept cemetery in Lipetsk, some 450 kilometers (279.62 miles) south of Moscow, a Reuters photographer at the funeral reported.
Peshkov’s family stood by the coffin, which was wrapped in Russia’s tricolor flag, and paid their final respects. Wreaths were clustered around the grave.
Turkish officials say the Russian Su-24 fighter bomber violated their country’s air space after being repeatedly warned to change course.
Moscow disputes that strongly, saying the aircraft was over Syria, where Russia is carrying out an air campaign backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a protracted civil war.
Peshkov was named a Hero of the Russian Federation after his death and the award was given to his wife during a ceremony on Tuesday.
Lipetsk residents also attended a memorial service for Peshkov on Wednesday and left flowers in his memory at a monument in the city.
Reporting by Maxim Zmeev; Writing by Alexander Winning; Editing by Andrew Osborn