Turkey has shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian border, saying the jet had repeatedly violated its air space, in one of the most serious publicly acknowledged clashes between a Nato member country and Russia for half a century.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said the plane had been attacked when it was 1kminside Syria on Tuesday and warned of “serious consequences” for what he termed a stab in the back administered by “the accomplices of terrorists”.
“We will never tolerate such crimes like the one committed today,” Putin said, as Russian and Turkish shares fell on fears of an escalation between the former Cold War enemies.
I assume the plane was inside Turkish territory.
Turkey had the legal right to shoot the plane down. However that doesn’t mean it should have. Far preferable would be informing Russia of the breaches, and warning them that future breaches will risk being fired on.
The Turkish military said the aircraft had been warned 10 times in the space of five minutes about violating Turkish air space. Officials said a second plane had also approached the border and been warned.
“The data we have is very clear. There were two planes approaching our border, we warned them as they were getting too close,” another senior Turkish official said.
Again Turkey had the legal right, but more prudent would be not just to warn the pilot (who may have orders) but to go up the chain of command.
In Washington, an official said the United States believed the incursion probably lasted only a matter of seconds before the jet was downed.
If correct then it seems regrettable.
I don’t trust what either Russia or Turkey claim. Hopefully an independent country can verify whether it did breach Turkish air space and for how long.