The ministry explained that the horrific mistake occurred due to the fact that the helicopter flew in close proximity to the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, where active military clashes between the two countries continue over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
The flight was being conducted in the dark, at low altitude and outside the radar detection zone of air defense systems, Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. In addition, Russian helicopters had not previously been seen in the area where the incident occurred, the report said.
With the overall tense situation in the area and increased combat readiness due to “possible provocations of the Armenian side,” the defense crew on duty decided to open fire to kill, Baku clarified.
“The Azerbaijani side apologizes to the Russian side in connection with this tragic incident, which is an accident by nature and was not directed against the Russian side,” the ministry said in a statement.
Azerbaijan also mentioned that it’s ready to pay compensation in connection with the incident.
The Azerbaijani officials expressed condolences to the families and friends of the killed crew members.
Earlier on Monday, the Russian Ministry of Defence reported that its Mi-24 military helicopter had been shot down in the airspace over the territory of Armenia outside the combat zone.
The helicopter was accompanying a motorcade of the Russian military base located nearby when it was hit by a portable air-defense system.
As a result of the crash, two crew members were killed, while one was evacuated with moderate injuries.
“The Russian Mi-24 helicopter was shot down in the airspace over the territory of the Republic of Armenia outside the combat zone [with Azerbaijan],” stressed the official representative of the Ministry of Defense, Major General Igor Konashenkov.
The incident took place amid the ongoing standoff between Armenia and Azerbaijan, in the long-disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, where active hostilities resumed on September 27.