Turkey shot down a Russian warplane near its border with Syria early this morning. A Sukhoi SU-24 fighter-bomber is reported to have been intercepted by two Turkish F-16 fighter jets after the Russian aircraft was warned ten times that it had violated Turkey′s airspace. The Russians tell a different story, that their plane was not over the border with Syria and was flying at about 6,000 meters. According to the Russians, their aircraft was shot down by Turkish antiaircraft artillery. Reports are that one of the two-man crew of the SU-24 was killed and the other ejected safely, but may have been captured on the ground by Syrian rebels. In Russia, President Vladimir Putin was very angry, calling the incident a ″stab in the back″. He is wondering whose side is NATO on in the war against ISIS as Turkey is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization?
There is no doubt that this event could be a troubling one. Russia and Turkey have rarely been on good terms with each other. Even within NATO, there has been much tension between Turkey and other NATO allies. Greece, in particular, has had many disputes with Turkey. The Turks have also been a reluctant partner with the United States ever since Gulf War One. Part of the reason for Turkey to shy away from supporting our actions in Iraq and in Syria have centered on the Kurds. Turkey is afraid of the Kurds becoming too powerful a military and economic threat to them. They fear a move to establish an independent Kurdistan would cause rebellion in southeastern Turkey among their own Kurdish population.
News video clearly shows the shoot down and the ejection of the crew. We also see that one parachute did open successfully and the crewman land somewhere in northern Syria. This is not the first time that Turkey has claimed that Russia has violated its airspace since Putin began intervening in Syria. On the positive side, Turkey does need Russian natural gas and Russia really cannot afford to get into a fight with the Turks as it could involve the whole NATO alliance. But this will cause some tension and require extra diplomacy to sort things out. Otherwise, we′re looking at World War Three. I don′t think things will go that far, but you never know. Who would have thought that shooting some dumb royal would have started World War One? Maybe things have reached a point where there are many scores to settle across the planet and now is as good a time as any to do so? We shall see!