Tuesday, November 24, 2015: Tension in the Middle East continues to escalate as Turkish fighter jets F-16s shot down Russian warplane Su-24 near the Turkish-Syrian border flying zone. The Turkish authorities have confirmed the incident, saying that the aircraft was violating its aerospace sovereignty.
Russian authorities have also confirmed the downing of their warplane but have denied the allegation that it was violating any aerospace boundaries. Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a statement that Su-24 was coming back from an airstrike mission against ISIS in Syria and was shot down by the Turkish fighter jets.
“A stab in the back,” complained Putin in response to the plane shooting.
Turkish Air Force has said that the airplane was shot down after three clear warnings given to the airplane. However, it did not comply and continued to violate the air space and was consequently shot down.
A video from Russian authorities has confirmed the plane was shot down by Turkish authorities.
The Russians have escalated their airstrikes since last month in the wake of the Metrojet crash that ISIS claimed it brought down in the Sanai desert. All 227 passengers were killed in the incident, including 7 crew members.
The downing of the Russian fighter jet has unearthed old NATO-Russia tensions since the end of the Cold War in the 90s. Russia has had series of disagreements on several subjects with NATO, including NATO involvement in Bosnia. The recent Metrojet and Paris attacks had really brought all the parties together against Islamic State. The two terrorist attacks, claimed by ISIS, killed 227 in the plane incident and 132 in Paris, totaling the count at 359 people within a span to less than three weeks.
The US and its allies, including Turkey and France, have been supporting the rebels in Syria for the ousting of Syrian President Bashar al-Asad, whereas Russia and Iran are his backers. Al-Asad stepping down from the throne has become the main conflict instead of ISIS. The Western coalition led by the US is supposed to take out ISIS, but the politics of the region have overshadowed the primary target. The same is the case with Russia, who increased its airstrikes since the Metrojet incident against ISIS but has been targeting mainly the rebels in Syria.
The lawmakers in Russian have asked for a protest against the Turkish actions and have asked the home ministry to recall all the tourists in the region. The Foreign Minister of Russia, Sergey Lavrov, has cancelled his scheduled visit to Turkey. President Putin has warned NATO and Turkey on the Su-incident.
“Today’s tragic cases will have significant consequences for the relations between Russia and Turkey,” he told reporters after talks with Jordan’s King Abdullah II.
US has denied any assistance in the incidence as the airplane was being shot. However, whether they had knowledge of such an incident in advance is still unknown. The Turkish President has called a crisis meeting of all the military leaders and the Prime Minister in the light of the current event. However, Article 5 of the constitution that calls for the coalition’s help in defense of its government member(s) has not been invoked.