Video footage has been released showing a Russian warplane being shot down near the border between Turkey and Syria earlier this morning (Tuesday 24th November). This follows several weeks of Turkey expressing annoyance that Russian planes had been less than scrupulous when operating close to the Syrian/Turkey border.
The recent Syrian conflict has seen both Russia and NATO flying combat missions in the same airspace for the first time since World War Two. Last month Turkey downed a drone which they believed belonged to Russia after it drifted more than two miles into their territory.
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It is currently being reported that unidentified military officials have told the Turkish media that the Russian warplane was taken out this morning after the pilots chose to ignore ten separate warnings within the space of five minutes, all informing them that they were violating Turkish airspace.
Russia’s state-run media agency have released information, obtained from the nation’s defence ministry, claiming that the two pilots ejected themselves from the plane before it was shot down by the two Turkish F-16 fighter jets. They also stated that the whereabouts of the pilots are currently unknown but that the government is making efforts to determine their fate.
Images shared on Twitter seems to show the two pilots safely out of the warplane with their parachutes deployed:
— Lutfi Abu Aun (@lutfiabuaun) November 24, 2015
— CNN Türk ENG (@CNNTURK_ENG) November 24, 2015
Additionally, the defence ministry disputed Turkey’s claims of intrusion and suggested that the warplane had crashed in Syrian territory and had been flying in Syrian airspace when it was shot down. Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Putin said:
We know for sure that the aircraft was in Syrian airspace, over the territory of Syria...it would be wrong to make some kind of assumptions right now, to make any statements until we have the complete picture. Therefore, we just have to be patient. This is a very serious incident, but again, it is impossible to say anything without complete information.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was scheduled to visit Turkey later this week, but has cancelled his trip in the wake of this development.
What’s really worrying about this situation is that it seems highly unlikely Putin, who is a pretty ruthless guy, will be willing to take this provocation from Turkey lying down. If he were to retaliate – and given his track record, it’s fair to assume that he will – there’s potential for all hell to break loose.
So far, plenty of people have been speculating that this move by Turkey was actually an effort to disrupt Russian efforts to bomb ISIS. Several Middle-Eastern news sources have made claims that ISIS has been smuggling Syrian oil into Turkey, with the Turkish government happy to receive the money that comes with it. All efforts by Russia to eradicate ISIS will be causing some harm to these underhanded exploits and so it seems that it would be in Turkey’s interests to allow ISIS continued free-run of Syria.
If Russia retaliates to Turkey it’s likely that conflict will break out between the two countries. And as we’ve seen in the past – it’ll only be a matter of time before the West has something to say about that and gets dragged into the dispute, essentially making way for World War Three. Which is probably exactly what ISIS wants as they continue to piss off pretty much every country in the world.