Turkeys Shoot Down of Russian Jet a Sign of Growing Belligerence by Putin

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Turkey shot down a Russia SU-24 jet earlier today after it reportedly violated Turkish airspace near the Syrian border.  The Russian jet was warned 10 times in five minutes before being shot down, according to the Turkish air force.   Both Russian pilots ejected from the plane before it crashed.  One pilot reportedly was captured; the other reportedly was killed.

Russian officials claim the jet did not violate Turkish airspace.  Turkey claims otherwise and released a map showing how the Russian jet overflew Turkish territory.

Tensions have been growing between Turkey and Russia over violations of Turkish airspace by Russian jets since Russia began conducting airstrikes in Syria on September 30.  Russian jets violated Turkish air space near the Syrian border several times over the last month.  A Russian fighter jet locked its targeting radar on Turkish jets during the weekend of October 3.  U.S officials warned Russia that these violations of Turkish airspace could lead to a military incident.

The Turkish government also is also angry over intensified Russian airstrikes against Turkmen villages areas close to the Turkish border in northwest Syria.  The Russian ambassador to Ankara was summoned to the Turkish foreign ministry last week to hear Turkey’s demand that Russia halt these airstrikes.  Russia also has been targeting Syrian rebels groups backed by the United States.

While Moscow previously said its jets may have inadvertently violated Turkish airspace, these incidents are consistent with a larger pattern of Russian jets challenging NATO and the U.S. military since 2014.  These include incidents in or near American, Swedish, Danish, Canadian, Estonian, Ukrainian and Lithuanian airspace, fly-overs of American and British warships in the Black Sea, and Russian submarine activity near Sweden.

Russia’s provocative air operations in Syria represent more than Russian President Putin’s reckless attempt to shore up the Assad regime.  They are part of his dangerous effort to reassert Russian global influence.  If this continues and includes more provocations against NATO members, it could lead to more military clashes.

Fred Fleitz

Please Share: