By Joe Coleman
Turbulence between Russia and Turkey escalated on Wednesday after President Tayyip Erdogan admitted Turkey’s air force downed a Russian Su-24 fighter jet the previous day. Subsequently, Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu announced via Twitter that Russia is dispatching an advanced weapons system to an air base only 30 miles from the Turkish coast. This would be the S-400 Triumf anti-aircraft missile system, which has a range of 155 miles.
A Turkish F-16 flying a mission over the Turkish-Syrian border shot down the Russian jet. Speaking on Russian TV, Foreign Minister Lavrov said the government has “serious doubts” that Turkey’s actions were “an unpremeditated act.” Lavrov went on, “It looks very much like a planned provocation.”
President Erdogan claims the incident is an infringement of Turkey’s sovereignty. Erdogan is contradicting Russia’s claims that Daesh has a presence where the downing occurred and stressed that Turkmens dominate the region in question. Erdogan stated, “First of all, the Daesh terrorist organization does not have a presence in this region of Latakia and the north where Turkmens are based. Let’s not fool ourselves.”
There is a great deal of anger among Turkish residents related to Russian air strikes in Syria, especially those near its border targeting Turkmens (who are traditionally Syrians of Turkish ancestry). The Turkish government has repeatedly warned Russia about air space violations. Last week, Turkey summoned the Russian ambassador to speak out against the bombing of a Turkmen village.
One of the surreal conveniences of modern times is the ability to watch such escalations of violence unfold on YouTube or a live feed. Recent YT posts, usually with Cyrillic usernames, exhibit the overwhelming strength of Putin’s warships. Russia proved its affinity for combat-ready, armored helicopters in Afghanistan in the 1980s. In 2015, Russia’s upgraded warships have unmerciful precision with the advent of global positioning systems.
As a multi-front war unfolds in the Middle East, its hard to tell who exactly is operating in Syria & Turkey. The U.S. and its allies are supplying armaments and operational support to some groups fighting al-Assad’s troops in Syria. Vladimir Putin labeled such groups terrorist organizations and is bombing them on those grounds. It is this fact alone that’s causing state department officals some degree of concern. Also, thinly-veiled warmongering from the editorial boards of washingtontimes.com, Bloomberg, and other media outlets only distort the political landscape.