Turkey’s Shootdown of Russian Jet: What You Need to Know

Yves here. This is going to be a real test of Putin’s leadership. Will he exercise restraint in the face of this level of provocation? And domestically, can he afford to?

The only good news is that the NATO has yet to view this situation as requiring collective action. From International Business Times:

With Turkish and Russian officials giving conflicting accounts of the incident, the North Atlantic Council meeting raises the possibility that Turkey could invoke NATO’s Article 5, the clause that says an attack against one ally is an attack against all….

A NATO official told the Associated Press that the meeting would be held at Turkey’s request. “At the request of Turkey, the North Atlantic Council will hold an extraordinary meeting at 17.00 (Brussels time). The aim of this extraordinary NAC meeting is for Turkey to inform allies about the downing of a Russian airplane. NATO is monitoring the situation closely. We are in close contact with Turkish authorities,” the council said in a statement, according to the Guardian.

A spokesman for NATO told the Guardian the meeting would not fall under Article 4, in which a member country discusses a threat to territorial integrity, political independence or security, but it would be purely for information.

By George Washington. Originally published at Washington’s Blog

A U.S. official told Reuters that the Russian jet was inside of Syria when it was shot down:

The United States believes that the Russian jet shot down by Turkey on Tuesday was hit inside Syrian airspace after a brief incursion into Turkish airspace, a U.S. official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Russia denies that the Russian fighter jet – which was bombing ISIS – ever entered Turkish air space, and has put out its own map purporting to prove that claim.

The Russian jet pilots who parachutted free of their burning plane were then purportedly killed by Turkish rebels inside Syria.  If true, this is a war crime.

Then – when a Russian helicopter tried to save the pilots – it was shot down by American-backed Syrian rebels – using weapons provided to them by the United States  – and a Russian marine was killed.

Russia is deploying a warship off the Syrian coast to “destroy any threats to Russian planes”.   Many believe this is the start of World War III.

While the U.S. and NATO tried to blame Russia, German Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel slammed Turkey:

“This incident shows for the first time that we are to dealing with an actor who is unpredictable according to statements from various parts of the region – that is not Russia, that is Turkey,” Gabriel said, as cited by DPA news agency. He added that Turkey was playing “a complicated role” in the Syrian conflict.

Indeed, NATO-member Turkey is MASSIVELY supporting ISIS, provided chemical weapons used in the jihadi’s massacre of civilians, and has been bombing ISIS’ main on-the-ground enemy – Kurdish soldiers – using its air force.  And some of the Turkish people are also unsympathetic to the victims of ISIS terrorism.Turkey was also instrumental in the creation of ISIS.  An internal Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) document produced recently shows, the U.S. knew that the actions of “the West, Gulf countries and Turkey” in Syria might create a terrorist group like ISIS and an Islamic CALIPHATE.

As the former DIA head explained:

It was a willful decision [by Turkey, the West and Gulf countries] to … support an insurgency that had salafists, Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood ….

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  1. Synoia

    It appears Turkey and Saudi Arabia are the major supporters of ISIS, and jointly harbor ambitions of a New Ottoman empire, the caliphate. ISIS are the leading edge of the conquest, a cops of the most radical Muslims, collected in one area to be exterminated by Turkish and Saudi peace actions, as they subsume Syria, build a land empire from Turkey through the Arabian Peninsular.

    A counterbalance to this Sunni Caliphate is the Shea Iranians. Which would explain the US embrace if Iran after almost 40 years of hostility.

    The US allies. Turkey and Saudi Arabia, are supported by the US, in that Muslim unrest threatens Russia by exporting the unrest into the ‘stans comprise the historic Silk Road to Russia south. This unrest is a direct threat to the new pan Asian economic zone lead by China and Russia.

    A conclusion is the the US is “Managing” Muslim unrest to protect its hegemony. A second conclusion is that events are exceeding the US’ ability to “manage” the situation.

    1. Paper Mac

      The house of Saud would not benefit from and does not want anything to do with Davutoglu’s neo-Ottoman fantasies. The fact that they are both supporting, in a variety of ways, ISIS and related groups, has more to do with their common antipathy toward the Assad government than it does some Sunni caliphal hivemind.

      1. blert


        As T.E. Lawrence might put it: the Turks and the Arabs are hardly on the same page for long.

        The entire basis for KSA’s existence turned on getting out from under the Ottoman Turks.

        Sadly for film fans, Alec Guiness was not able to stay in control of Mecca and Medina. They fell to Ibn Saud.

      2. Synoia

        Saudi Arabia is the source of Muslim Extremism, the Wahhabi’s, and Money.

        Turkey is the ISIS supply route and leaky borders, Erdogan is both extreme and reportedly focused one changing Turkey;s governance, secular nature, and killing Kurds,

        The US has both fermented and used Muslim Discontent, from supporting Israel to destabilizing a Soviet Union (Russian) occupation of Afghanistan. Using the political necessity of supporting Israel to destabilize Russia seems an unexpected consequence of use of US effort.

        The Great Game v 2.0?

    2. Massinissa

      Agreed with what Mac said. Erdogan and the gulf monarchs all want hegemony over regional sunni-ism. They are not working together in some kind of secret behind the scenes sunni brotherhood. If anything theyre probably competing to see who can control ISIS the most for their own end.

    3. susan the other

      The parties involved seem determined to protect their own positions. It is hard to explain such serious dedication to ousting Assad (I’ve never read a believable explanation for ousting him except that he aligns politically with Russia et.al.) So the explanations remain thin and puzzling even when Turkey does something so outrageous it makes us look good, it’s just some vacuous blabber about air space. Turkey has an exaggerated interest in this conflict if the whole mess is just to oust Assad. And always lost in the discussion is any reference to all the natural gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean which Russia and Syria are probably protecting for their own interests while blocking Turkey (always in need of money) from getting in on the heist. And also never mentioned is the phasing-out of oil. Which will leave natural gas as the biggest prize on the planet for the next 50 years.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        People like Obama are incredibly arrogant. Putin has given Obama chances to back away with grace, but Obama isn’t just the object of devotion for Obots he is one. Being a “smart war liberator and guardian of American exceptional ism and global power” is part of his brand. Walking away from Syria is too hard to spin for Obama.

        There probably isn’t anyone who tells him differently. Just because it’s foreign policy, Obama will treat Syria like he does everything else. In early 2010, it’s been claimed he told the Team Blue caucus that the difference between 94 and 2010 was they have Obama.

        Admittedly, I’ve never thought much of Obama, so I’m not surprised he embraces terrible ideas.

      2. Yata

        Having natural resources, oil, and minerals is one thing, access to markets to sell these products is another consideration. We can likely all agree that SA didn’t collape the $/bbl as a matter of charity.
        You could look to Europe as being a large market for these products. Like you mentioned there are quite a few plausable reasons for the actions of the us and other alligned powers to remove Assad. And it could be a confluence of reasons that have created this disaster in Syria.

  2. Krell

    Does Turkey think that Russia will just shut up and accept their dead? Seriously? Some of the articles in our Western media have been truly bad on this development and have been mocking both Putin and the Russians. The whole thing absolutely reeks of a set-up, including the destruction of that rescue helicopter. Whatever the Russians decide to do it will not end well for Turkey.

    Putin might just decide to establish a protective umbrella over the Syrian Kurds and stop the Turks from bombing them. Will the Turks then complain to the UN or NATO when some of their aircraft are taken out whilst illegally flying uninvited over a foreign country (Syria) and bombing its citizens (Syrian Kurds)?

    As for the Turkmen in Syria, I would not want to be them after murdering those pilots. Especially when they could have traded them to Russia for only ‘light’ treatment by the Russian military. Turkey apparently, has been wanting to take this part of Syria and fold it into Turkey. Not gunna happen now but I am guessing that the Islamist militants will be marked for special targeting now.

  3. OIFVet

    Overt military response is unlikely, except that from now on any Turkish AF aircraft that enters Syrian airspace would be summarily destroyed. There will be a huge pressure from on Putin to send a few turks to meet their allah but such didn’t work in Ukraine and won’t work now. Rather, the huge Russian tourist stream to Turkey will disappear, Turkish exports to Russia will be banned, gas supplies will be disrupted due to ‘technical reasons’ and ‘pipeline maintenance’, and various financial and government institutions will find themselves under a sustained electronic attacks. In private Europe is horrified, regardless of what poodle Stoltenberg might say, and most blame Sultan Erdogan for the migrant crisis and for the subsequent blackmail of Europe by the neo-ottoman idiocracy in Ankara. This went too far, and came too soon after Paris, for even the lemmings not to notice whose side Turkey is really on. I am next door right now, and let’s just say that the ‘man on the street’ opinion is harshly and violently anti-turk. Europe will soon be making a choice either way, and 0bama is not helping the US much with his peevish belligerence.

    1. Bill Smith

      Might be tricky doing that as other countries aircraft are staging out of Turkey to bomb targets in Syria.

      1. OIFVet

        If Russia and Syria declare that any aircraft entering Syrian airspace from Turkey will be considered hostile and is therefore subject to being shot down, US and French aircraft will bug out and use the Med corridor, pending Russian and Syrian approval. Either way, it will be open season on Turkish jets in Syrian airspace. And rightly so, all Turkey does is enable ISIS by bombing the PKK and arming/oil trading with IS. Putin did not just state that Russia was stabbed in the back by terrorist enablers for nothing.

        1. susan the other

          When Putin made that comment I got the distinct feeling he was really referring to Hollande. France is the biggest player. And not long ago some French pol made the comment that it made no sense to maintain economic sanctions against Russia if they were agreeing to be France’s mercenary in Syria. Then Turkey pops off like a loose cannon and France does nothing.

    2. different clue

      If the RussiaGov plans to stop selling/moving any of its gas to Turkey, lets hope the RussiaGov can keep silent about that until bad winter cold grips Turkey and only THEN, when it is TOO LATE for Turkey to find other sources in time to avoid cold-related casualties and property damage . . . . should RussiaGov suddenly freeze movement of gas. Perhaps the generalized discontent in a freezing Turkey will begin to undermine the AKPs position in that country.

  4. Roland

    Obama remarked that if Putin stopped bombing “moderate” Syrian rebels, then Russian planes wouldn’t get shot down.

    Judging from that remark, it would seem that the Turks and USA want to force the Russians to back away from bombing Nusra positions anywhere near the Turkish border, i.e. a de facto no-fly zone.

    Certainly there was nothing accidental or unforeseen about the Turkish attack. The Turks fully intended to attack some Russian aircraft and were waiting for an opportunity.

    The Syrian War is growing past the stage of proxy war. This is now heading toward conventional confrontation between powers. Few of the current world leaders have relevant experience during their lifetimes of either waging such wars, or of avoiding them.

    My prediction is that Russia will fight much harder in Syria than would seem “rational.” For Russia the question is whether or not they can sustain an alliance. For Russia the Syrian War is not just about Syria, it is about Belarus and other former Soviet republics.

    I will be surprised if the Russians back off here. I wonder what the Turks will do when a future batch of Russian air strikes near the Turkish border all have proper fighter escort? Would the Turks engage in a full-fledged air superiority battle at the Syrian frontier?

    Would the Russians risk exposing valuable electronic countermeasures assets to enemy observation and assessment, in anything less than a major war?

    At any rate, ISIS leaders are chortling. These stupid big lugs are about to lurch into one another and send themselves brawling and sprawling. And all they had to do was shoot some concertgoers!

    1. William C

      The FT is reporting that Turkey has imposed an exclusion zone over Syrian airspace that runs fifteen miles into Syria.

      Those whom the Gods wish to destroy?

        1. Paul Tioxon

          The same rights Russia claims from sovereign Ukraine when it stole Crimea. How do you like them sovereign apples now OIF?

          1. OIFVet

            Stole?! Why did Kosovo have the “right” to self-determination but Crimea didn’t? And how exactly does the Crimean situation apply to Turkey lying in an obvious ambush to shoot down a Russian jet, with a highly suspect cover story to boot? For that matter, why did this happen after Russia began to bomb the sultan’s son’s oil racket with the IS? You wanna know how I like them apples? The question is, why do you like them. Because you support IS or just hate them Ruskies that much? Either way, what happened yesterday proved that sultan Erdogan is indeed an aider and abettor of vile killers and a threat to the security of Europe. I don’t know how this is going down stateside, but in Europe Turkey and erdogan are less popular than syphilis right now. The lemmings are waking up, and that’s about the best thing to come out of this lunatic’s act.

          2. Crazy Horse

            That would be the same sovereign Ukraine against which the US admitted spending five billion dollars fomenting a successful coup to overthrow the elected government? Using as its “opposition freedom fighters” the last old fashioned WWII Nazis left on the continent?

            Elections are fine in the US as long as both political parties are already owned by the same oligarchs and the results change nothing. But if 95% of California voters voted to leave the US and join Mexico I’ll bet the entire state would be bombed back into the Stone Age within days. Or perhaps they would wait long enough to get all the live television coverage in place before raining Shock and Awe down upon the ingrates.

    2. Jagger

      Obama remarked that if Putin stopped bombing “moderate” Syrian rebels, then Russian planes wouldn’t get shot down.
      judging from that remark, it would seem that the Turks and USA want to force the Russians to back away from bombing Nusra positions anywhere near the Turkish border, i.e. a de facto no-fly zone.

      Obama’s remarks certainly made me wonder if the the Turks had the green light from Washington. He also returned to the standard demand that Assad must go. His remarks appeared to put the blame on Russia and certainly won’t help matters. I wouldn’t put it pass the neocons that shooting down a Russian plane is all just part of the gameplan.

    3. susan the other

      I’d like to read more about Russia’s “electronic countermeasures” – PCR had a paragraph about this so-far secret technology. It surprised me because we have such mind-boggling technology – how can they be ahead of us… and that means China too.

      1. Gaianne

        Susan the other–

        The reason Russia and China can be “ahead of us”–and they are–is because the US spends its money on complex “gee-whiz” weapons (which are very expensive, but ineffective–the F-35 is a stunning example) while Russia and China focus on weapons that will work in the field and are as simple as possible to produce.

        The motivational difference is that the Russians and the Chinese believe they are in a fight for their existence–an idea the Yeltsin years and the “pivot to China” have more or less proven–while the US is engaging in wars of choice (blood sports for our elites) and winning is less important than profiting. Also, our elites have come to believe they “make their own reality”–a delusion the Russians and Chinese are aware they cannot afford.

        Global war is coming–it is nearly certain–because the US wants it. The Russians and Chinese are putting a lot of thought into keeping it from going nuclear–as the Americans are not.


        1. Crazy Horse

          A country which has been invaded at the cost of millions of lives has a different cultural memory than one which successful occupied a continent, killed all its former occupants and evolved into the dominant imperial power in the world.

          The military concerns of the former naturally focus upon defensive superiority, and its history teaches it that it can absorb any land invasion into its vast interior and survive.

          A country with imperial outposts scattered around the world, a military/industrial sector that is a dominant part of the economy, a national ethos that places profit as the supreme value, and a history of permanent warfare in support of profit and hegemony naturally adopts a different kind of military weaponry..

      2. Bill Smith

        …I’d like to read more about Russia’s “electronic countermeasures”…

        So would the Russians.

    4. different clue

      Obama is still not with Assad. That means Obama is still with the terrorists. Obama still positions himself as the world leader of the Coalition of Moderate Jihadi Terrorism. And anyone who is with Obama is with the terrorists. That of course includes all of Obama’s domestic supporters within the United States.

  5. Fajensen

    Europe has been at war with Turkey – on and off – for about 1300 years.

    It is pretty unlikely (and certain political suicide) that any European country will enter a war *for* Turkey, regardless of any NATO onligations. It’s just not done!
    The joker is of course the new NATO members (and Sweden) they are always gagging to have go at Russia – if they could just get the US to do all the work for them. Unfortunately, The US have enough bellicose crazies to like this idea.

    1. vlade

      The general feeling in what you call the “new NATO” countries (i.e. ex Soviet block) is that Turkey massively overstepped. They have deep seated (and historically very much justified) suspicion of Russia and its actions, but they like islamists even less, and Turkey’s shift from secularism went much less unnoticed than in the rest of Europe/US. After all, Russia isn’t the only one who invaded/occupied most of them during the last few hundreds of years..

      What gets me is that this likely means that Erdogan is getting a much stronger grip on Turkish military, which historically was the only thing that held Turkey secular (in fact, it felt it was its mission from Kemal Ataturk). Or, in what could be even scarier is that military did this deliberately assuming any Putin’s reaction would target Erdogan much more than the military, in which case a phrase “rogue generals playing with a nuclear power” comes to mind.

      As mentioned above, the best response Russia could make right now is to help Kurds with weapons/supplies and establishing no-fly zone over Syria’s Kurds. Since Kurds are officially seen by most of the West as “good” (let’s ignore the need to have everything black and white for a second), it would be very hard for Turkey to object, even if Russia shoots down some Turkish planes/helicopters over Syria.

      1. OIFVet

        Exactly. I imagine you are Serbian, I am from Bulgaria by birth and currently there on a short vacation. The governments of “new” members in the Balkans and even Central Europe may say whatever they want, they are figureheads. The populace will not allow any situation where they enter a war against Russia on behalf of Turkey. Too much bad history there, for six centuries now. In Bulgaria the man on the street is right now in a very bad mood and very anti-turk. Accordingly even the government figureheads are unusually subdued and cautious in what they say in reaction to the downing of the Russian jet. To put not too fine a point on it, people are scared of a nuclear conflagration and the situation is explosive.

      2. fajensen

        Sorr;y my mistake for generalizing.

        I was thinking about Georgia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – which only last week (according to Danish media) were eager for “steps to be taken against Russia”. Sweden would be totally eager to prove to the world (which actually don’t care about Sweden) that they are *so totally not racists* that they (well, “they” being the official Sweden) will readily step up and defend any belief system, the more alien, obnoxious and perverse the better, for “proof of non-racistness”. It’s really, really weird and strange.

        Here, on the street, everyone see Turkey as an emerging Islamist menace, looking to grab some land in Europe.

      1. fajensen

        Sweden, the country, would love to have the opportunity of a stage where they could publicly protect a (per-definition) disadvantaged minority and be “building a bridge to the Muslim World”. There is also a lot of “The Russians are Coming” going on – probably because the Army wants *some* enemy they can use to justify an increased budget.

        As I said, it is really weird. They fill every nook, cranny and hamlet with refugees, on top of that there are Roman beggars everywhere – I do mean Everywhere, there will be one outside every “ICA”-shop in the most remote town – and then people give the Romans money and are hugging them, in public!?

        – All the while that they got thousands of real, hard-core, Nazis here, there have been at least 2 serial-killers specifically targeting immigrants and more:

        Every shop has markings on the doorway so they can get the height of the perp on the security camera, every bank has either bullet-proof glass in front of the counter or double-doors that open from the inside, all manner of security is really The Thing to invest in as a home-owner and Malmö (a city of 300000 people) manage to beat Denmark’s (5.2 Million) annual murder rate every year, about April/May. In Gothenburg they bomb each other all the time.

        In private, out in the forest or after a few shots of liqueur, one can event get to meet real racists of the racial-purity strand. The “is is not perhaps stupid to give all the affordable accommodation away to immigrants when we have thousands young people who cannot get a place to live and who then might vote for some right-wing nutboy out of somewhat justified rage and frustration”-kind is rarely seen and never heard off, certainly not in the serious media.

        But, this is the darker side of Sweden, that is never discussed much.

        I think there is an actual reason for this “censorship”, that the Danes like to call it. Compared to a Swede, the Danes will rant a lot, often angrily and sometimes racist too, but we rarely do anything worse than ranting. A Swede does not say much, but what he/she says is in fact a lot more like a promise. So, they don’t want people (and themselves) to say too much.

        It’s like they have some problems, like everyone, and then on top all this mean and viscous stuff going on and they feel that they must atone for it and distance themselves from all these wrong feelings in some public way.

    2. Jim

      Re your remark about “1300 years”. Perhaps you are confusing the expansion of Turkic peoples with the expansion of Arabs. The Arabs did begin their expansion in the middle of the seventh century AD. However nearly all of Anatolia was not conquered by the Arabs but remained under Byzantine rule. The Seljuk Turks did conquer most of Anatolia in the late 11th century but subsequently the Byzantines retook most of the Aegean coast of Anatolia.

      The expansion of the Ottomans began about 1300. So it would be more accurate to say that Europe has been at war on and off with the Osmanli Turks for about 700 years.

    3. fosforos

      “just not done?” Not so long ago there was that kerfluffle known as the “Crimean War”–the British, French, and Turkish Empires ganging up on Russia. Then a few years on there was that little incident known as the “Great War,” with the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires ganging up with the Turks against Russia. It’s done, boychik.

  6. VietnamVet

    The Russian bomber shot down is one of the cascade of catastrophic events that started with the West’s determination to destabilize Eurasia with proxy neo-Nazi and Jihadist forces and Russia’s counter intervention into Syria. There are five nuclear countries flying sorties over Syria; Russia, USA, Israel, France and the United Kingdom. World War III is underway but it is unacknowledged. If the rulers headquartered in London, Frankfurt, New York and Washington DC don’t fear extinction from the ignition of hydrogen bombs overhead, then that is exactly what will happen. The War will inevitably escalate with no one trying to damp it down.

    One alternative to destroying the Northern Hemisphere is to forget regime change and join in an alliance with Russia and the rest of the world to eliminate the Islamic State and quarantine radical Islam.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Thank you. One might notice that Assad is *secular*. Saddam was *secular*. Gaddafi was playing ball, fighting Islamism, assisting on refugees, and by the way giving his people the highest standard of living on the continent. But the US has lined up with the most Islamist regime of all (the lovely House of Saud) and is STILL playing cutsie-footsie with al-Nusra and the other “moderate” maniacs. French Minister Villepin two weeks ago said “al-Nusra is doing a good job”, Kerry finally folded and put them on the “terror” list but the events show that’s just theatre.
      Turkey lost 90% of its landmass after WW I so anything that adds territory is v.popular. EVERYONE in the region playing too cute by half. If the US actually wanted peace they could get it in 30 minutes with four or five phone calls: Vlad, Bibi, whoever the latest beheading monster running Saudi these days, Kobani, and Davitoglu. But folks: this is not about peace, it’s about “Ka-ching”. $1.29B last week from the Sauds to the Pentagon for their latest death-toys. Made in America, indeed.

      1. jrs

        The thing is I’m not sure the U.S. governmewnt has much say over the Saudi’s. It doesn’t have say over Vlad, of course, but he could be negotiated with from a reasonable position, and the U.S. could pull strings on Bibi for sure. Yes backing Assad would be the fastest way to stop ISIS. Get behind Russia or get the heck out of the hornet’s nest that is Syria (not backing any rebels itself might be enough).

    2. washunate

      Agreed, except that framing is misleading. This is not a conflict between the West and IS/radical Islam. It’s a civil war within the West, with one faction, USUK, employing violent Islamists as part of that effort. To have the American empire unite with the Russians in eliminating IS is redundant. We are the ones who create, motivate, and equip radical Islam in the first place.

  7. McDruid

    When your source can’t distinguish between Turkmen and Turks, it is time to distrust what they say. Most of the Washington’s Blog sources are self referential and consist mostly of over-exaggerating tenuous connections.

    1. Bill Smith

      Yeah, and that “Russia is deploying a warship off the Syrian coast” has been there since September. Does carry the navy version of the S-400.

      1. McDruid

        Minutes after the missile hit, a Russian warship was allowed passage through the Bos. That is perhaps what they are referring to.

    2. ambrit

      The great value of Washingtons’ Blog is that it speaks “Truth to Power.” Other sites with closer “connections’ to the events being reported agree with the Washingtons’ Blog views.
      Sites like Washingtons’ Blog fill the function of the slave who held the Laurel Wreath above the Generals’ head during a Roman ‘Triumph.’ He was there to whisper in the Generals’ ear; “Remember that you are only mortal.” The lowliest gives the highest good advice. The highest proves his or her fitness for their position by taking that advice to heart.

      1. McDruid

        More like WB reports tenuous exaggerations from the look of it. They seem to delight in publishing conclusions that push the envelope of the facts given.

        1. JTMcPhee

          I wonder what their batting average is, on getting it right? The NYT toldvus Saddam hadvstuffed Iraq full of chemical, biological and nukular radiological etc. weapons, and thereby hangs a Very Long Tail…

          1. McDruid

            That is a rather stale example, but I’m sure you could find some more recent ones without much effort.

  8. LifelongLib

    Guessing, but I’d say the U.S. official’s statement that the Russian plane was actually back in Syrian airspace when it was shot down is a signal that we’re not going to back Turkey to the hilt over this. And the pilots being killed as they dangled from their parachutes along with the shootdown of the rescue helicopter puts an ugly stamp on the whole thing.

  9. Massinissa

    As McDruid mentioned in passing above, the Turkmen who killed the pilot were militants of Turkish ethnicity in Syria, along the border with Turkey. They are not, officially at least, connected to Erdogan or the Turkish military.

    It seems George Washington has gotten this confused.

    1. ambrit

      Then, who does arm, train, and pay them? If it were to come out that America does….
      There are far too many “loose (atomic) cannons” rattling around that region.

        1. McDruid

          The Turkmen appear to be one of the many anti-Assad forces out there. Turkey has, in the past and no doubt still, supports them since their long standing primary objective is to get rid of Assad. Unfortunately that puts them on a collision course with Russia, who, under the guise of attacking ISIS, is mostly targeting the anti-Assad rebels. It is unlikely that Turkey, or anybody, has effective control over any of the forces fighting in Syria.

          1. Fiver

            Turkey’s ‘long standing primary objective is to get rid of Assad’.

            Nonsense. The ‘objective’ is 4 years old, and tied directly to Assad’s legal, legitimate choice not to support a pipeline project aimed at hurting his truly long-term ally, Russia. Erdogan has long, often rather desperately, sought to strike a balance between the Imperial edicts of its overseas military and financial boss, the US, and his own neighbourhood’s complex web of interests – including US allies’ agendas that in any normal universe would be seen as running directly counter to those of the US.

            As for Russia targeting ‘anti-Assad rebels’, the simple fact again is that whatever small numbers of ‘moderate’ Syrian rebels existed at the outset are long, long gone. The only non-jihadist forces in the fight against Assad are US and others’ Special Forces. There is no ‘moderate’ opposition, as in fact the ‘moderates’ in Syria have consistently supported Assad – you’d think something so obviously the case, i.e., that Assad couldn’t possibly have lasted this long without substantial support of Syrians, would by itself be enough to shut down the fools who’ve invested so much in his removal at such stupendous cost, clinging to the imagined moral high ground of ‘liberation from tyranny’ as the excuse for such monstrously stupid US/Saudi/GCC/Qatari/Israeli/NATO/Jordan/Turkish actions.

  10. Plutoniumkun

    Its pretty clear that the Turks deliberately decided to attack a Russian plane in revenge for earlier Russian incursions, hoping that NATO membership protects them from a counter response. The historical analogies that come to mind are numerous – from Armenians carrying out attacks on Turks hoping that ‘Christian powers’ would come to their aid when the Turks retaliated, to Paul Pot attacking the Vietnamese assuming that China would come to his aid. Both those didn’t exactly end well.

    I think the key danger here is Russia. Putin knows full well that Germany and France will not respond to a request for help from Turkey, no matter what NATO’s agreements state. He may see it as an ideal opportunity to rip NATO apart. He may gamble that a strike against Turkey strong enough to humiliate it, but calculated enough to ensure that the the Germans/French won’t join in (the UK will do whatever Obama tells them) would make the NATO agreement a dead letter. He may well succeed. The problem comes if he miscalculates.

    1. drexciya

      Turkey needs to be taken down a bit, so I wouldn’t mind Putin learning Erdogan a lesson. But I think Putin is more subtle. He can do lots of things to make things more difficult for Turkey. Other people in this thread noted gas deliveries, tourist income, exports and those are a nice place to start. And how about arming the YPG/PKK; now that would be some poetic justice right there.

      1. McDruid

        I think the people on this board should stick to economics. Russia’s only supply route to Syria is through the Bosphorus. This includes the only way they have of getting jet fuel to their forces in Syria. Also Turkey’s army, even without the NATO backup, is easily capable of demolishing all of the opposing forces, including Russian, in Syria.

        1. shash

          Not if Iran is willing to play ball with them (indications are that they are). And if, as drexciya says, they arm the YPG/PKK, that gives them Northern Iraq. Down the Caspian, then overland through Iran and Iraq…

            1. JTMcPhee

              Don’t most jets run on jet fuel, which is basically kerosene? Not too many piston engines still operating…

              1. McDruid

                You can use commercial fuels for a military jet, but performance may suffer and there may be other unintended consequences, such as engine misfires and increased corrosion.
                Not that it matters, interdicting Russian shipping through the Dardanelles would include the bombs and missiles they are using.

            1. todde

              No they will just ship it from the Baltic and their north sea fleets, like they currently are.

              Orange Egypt, like they currently are.

                    1. todde

                      More than likely russia will support kurdish separatist and turkey will support separatist in the caucus.

                      Nobody fits real wars.anymore

        2. washunate

          Reading through this a couple days later, this is pretty funny Amercan exceptionalism you’re spouting this holiday week. Yes, there are many complex and unpredictable reactions – that uncertainty is precisely why conflict resolution is almost always superior to conflict escalation. Turkey and Greece’s roles in NATO in particular have long been the most likely flashpoint for the ultimate unraveling of NATO.

          But having said that, your proposal is laughably flippant. Turkey closing down a major shipping route through which the Russians have established treaty rights is an enormous, arguably unprecedented, act in contemporary international relations. It’s of course not impossible such an act could occur, but the seriousness of the repercussions are orders of magnitude beyond geopolitics of the past couple decades.

    2. vlade

      strike directly against Turkey? that would escalate massively, and could backfire like Polish invasion in WW2, where Hitler thought allies would just roll over as ever before. Except they didn’t. Rest assured that this similarity would be drawn out very quickly.

      On the other hand, shooting down a Turkish jet or three over Syria, especially if the jets were bombing Kurds, now that would make a different story. Mind you, even that would be a large esaclation but unlikely to draw in NATO

      1. washunate

        FYI, I’m not sure the invasion of Poland means what you mean. What backfired was the invasion of the USSR. The invasion of Poland went almost flawlessly. Polish defense policy was essentially predicated upon instantaneous support from Britain and France that never materialized. Without that intervention, Nazi and Soviet troops occupied central and eastern Europe in a matter of weeks.

    3. fajensen

      NATO should have croaked along with the USSR. I’m quite fine with NATO splitting at the seams – because – right now it’s a bunch of obsolete war-planners looking for some fight to justify their continued existence, any fight, in fact, NATO today is pretty much a mercenary force for the USA. No way nearly enough equipped for taking on any serious opponent, but good enough for bombing the shit out of places with poor air defense and weak friends. Of course 50% of the population feels the exact opposite way.

      I think Putin is probably, unfortunately, the most rational leader out of a sad bunch. I think the Russian response will be graduated: Cutting tourism, sabotaging Turkish exports with bureaucracy, Russian gas contracts will face sudden bureaucratic difficulties, later the Kurds may suddenly be much better armed and Russia will certainly bomb the everliving shit out of the entire “Turkish terrorist infrastructure” right along the borders, this time going with fighter escorts and perhaps even full ECM support (If they go with ECM support, *that* would be ominous indeed, once these systems are used, they get measured and analyzed, counter-counter measures come up and it’s back to the lab for another 20 years).

      Maybe the Greek’s will see an opportunity to pop one off at one of the many, many Turkish violations of Greek airspace?

      1. OIFVet

        The turks violate Greek airspace several thousand times a year. It’s the turkish version of American exceptionalism.

            1. todde

              I think Krauts point is it may be internationally recognized as greek airspace but only Greece is.going to defend it.

              Which they are incapable to do.

              1. OIFVet

                They could always invoke Article 5 ;) It would do wonders to demonstrate the utter moral and legal bankruptcy of NATO.

      2. Jim Haygood

        ‘NATO – right now it’s a bunch of obsolete war-planners looking for some fight to justify their continued existence, any fight.’

        Amen, bro. WW I demonstrated how strategic alliances with mutual defense guarantees could escalate disastrously.

        NATO lost its reason for existence when the USSR collapsed. Then it began violating its own treaty with “out of area” aggression (Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia, Afghanistan).

        Clearly, NATO has degenerated into a rogue organization, serving as a fig leaf for US military occupation of Europe 70 years after the war ended. Will Europe ever develop enough backbone to expel its American occupiers?

        1. susan the other

          Getting rid of NATO makes sense. Or just getting around it. It explains the weird comment by the French about not sanctioning Russia when they agreed to help the French out in Syria. Because the French couldn’t go in and intimidate Turkey bec Turkey is a NATO member.

          1. susan the other

            This makes me remember stg. else. When Crimea was annexed by Russia and tensions were high, Russia repositioned a flotilla of ships formerly at risk in Crimea. They were stationed around the northeast end of Cyprus which looked weird on the map bec you would expect them to be harbored by Syria. It looked like they were planning to protect Turkey, not Syria. But clearly that couldn’t have been the case. They were more likely getting set up to clock Turkey at the behest of France. Maybe.

          2. JTMcPhee

            How, oh how, will it ever be possible to “get rid of NATO,” one of those ultimate, Iron Law of Institutions, self-licking ice cream cones? Actually, the mental picture is more like a Chinese Crested dog licking its privates, “because it CAN, and because it feels SO good…”http://www.toptenz.net/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/chinese-crested-dog.jpg

    4. russell1200

      The danger to Russia is that the Turks close the Bophorus. Huge amounts of Russian trade and oil, and their supplies to Syria, ship through this point.

      It is the obvious response to a too forceful response, and obviously escalates in an extreme way.

      1. OIFVet

        The Turks can’t and won’t close the Bosphorus over economic sanctions. They can try over an eventual shoot-down of a Turkish jet over Syria, but then again the very presence of Turkish jets conducting bombing runs inside Syria is an act of aggression and unless Erdogan wants a Kurdish insurgency armed by Russia inside Turkey proper he won’t try to close the shipping lanes. Erdogan is nuts but I don’t think he is that stupid. In any case, as a native Bulgarian I view a non-Kemalist, islamist, sultan erdogan-led turkey as a danger for regional and global peace and in such case I won’t mind one bit the return of Constantinople to Greece and to Orthodox christendom.

        1. McDruid

          The Turkish F-16s bombing Syria out of Incirlik are indistinguishable from US planes bombing Syria out of Incirlik. Tell me again how Russia is going to shoot one down?

            1. McDruid

              I feel embarrassed for you that I have to explain this to you. If Russia threatens to shoot down a Turkish F-16 and the US continues to fly out of Incirlik, Russia can’t carry through with their threat and are shown to be wusses. Since Russia can’t predict the US reaction, they will not make the threat. Simple strategic thinking.

              1. Skippy

                Yeah those wusses repetitively did runs on the missile cruiser SS Donald Cook….

                Skippy…. “Simple strategic thinking.” – yeah its been working great…. for decades…. pats self on back….

              2. OIFVet

                If US refuses to use other air routes then it is a risk it consciously undertakes in the face of Russian warnings, and implicitly becomes a state sponsor of ISIS. It is that simple. It’s time to put up or STFU.

                1. McDruid

                  So let me get this straight: if the US continues to use Incirlik to bomb ISIS, then it is a “state sponsor of ISIS”?

                  About as confused as the rest of your thinking.

                  1. OIFVet

                    Just how much has the US done in one year of pretending to bomb ISIS? The fact is that most of the weapons that the US and its ‘moderate’ allies KSA and turkey supply to ‘moderate rebels’ turn up in ISIS’ hands. Go on and explain that curious fact. Second, turkish jets bomb Kurds in Syria, which were the most effective force fighting ISIS until Russia entered the fray and enabled the FAA to go on the offensive. Third, bilal erdogan, the sultan’s son, is in on the ISIS black market oil trade. To make it short and exceedingly effing sweet, turkey is a state sponsor of ISIS and its sultan has both political and financial interests in ISIS. So, if there is the question of IDing planes entering from turkey to bomb the Kurds on behalf of ISIS and the US is unwilling to provide its FoF codes and/or use other routes, then the US becomes a de facto state sponsor of ISIS as well, not that its protestations to the contrary didn’t ring hollow in the first place. Like I already said, its time to put up or STFU. Still confused? Well, I can fix many things but I can’t fix stupid.

              3. todde

                If america says turkey can shoot down Russian warplanes that violate Turkish airspace then Syria can shoot down american warplanes that violate Syrian airspace.

                1. JTMcPhee

                  You don’t have it quite right — it’s like my ex-wife formulated it: when I did something, whatever it was, THAT WAS WRONG — when she did the exact same thing, THAT WAS DIFFERENT…

                2. McDruid

                  Yep, Syria and Russia have that option, as long as they are willing to live with the results.

                  …Or maybe it is NOT live.

                  1. OIFVet

                    Oh I get it, you are one of them who believe that the US can win nuclear war. Like I said, I can’t fix stupid.

                    1. McDruid

                      Syria doesn’t have nukes, and Russia isn’t going to war over them. The US has a number of options, remember the Russian excursion into Afghanistan?

  11. nothing but the truth

    you will definitely see SAM missiles being launched against Turkish aircraft from Syrian border areas.

    The way NATO is set up it will inevitably lead to a member country pulling everyone into a world war.

    The difference between “attack” and “defense” can be infinitesimal, especially if you control the media.

    NATO members will push Russia till it retaliates, then all NATO says “game on” and WWW3 is in full mode.

    Turkey wouldnt dare do this unless it was part of NATO. So NATO basically has increased member bellicosity and misadventurism.

    1. Jim Haygood

      ‘The difference between “attack” and “defense” can be infinitesimal, especially if you control the media.’

      Our brave stenographers on the front lines of the media battle already are producing telling strikes, such as this morning’s NYT article asserting Turkey’s ‘nuanced reasons’ for attacking Russia’s aircraft.

      Huddled in our bomb shelters, we can draw comfort from the majestic chords of the media’s Mighty Wurlitzer.

    2. Bill Smith

      “you will definitely see SAM missiles being launched against Turkish aircraft”

      When do you think this will start?

      1. nothing but the truth

        not immediately.

        it will happen when the turks think the russians swallowed their pride and cowed down.

    3. McDruid

      Again, Turks fly NATO F-16, exactly as the US F-16 that are also flying sorties in Syria. Somehow I don’t think Russia is going to start shooting willy-nilly at F-16s.

  12. ex-PFC Chuck

    The Russian responses under Putin will be subtle, strategic surprises, and most likely effective just as they have been in the Ukraine situation. But they will be short of anything that gives cause to the Erdogan regime to formally declare war. Otherwise Turkey will be legally entitled to close the Bosphorus and Dardanelles to Russian shipping, which would greatly complicate their conduct of operations in Syria. As has been said many times in the past two years, he is playing chess while his opponents are at best capable of something between tic tac toe and checkers.

    1. hemeantwell

      Right. Putin has a many options and he will not react in so headstrong a way as to lose them. Erdogan was able — accusations of vote rigging aside — to boost AKP support through crisis escalation. The shoot down is in a strong sense more of the same. But now Putin can work to isolate Turkey from the rest of NATO, undercut Turkey’s already struggling economy, justify aid to the Kurds. I wonder what Erdogan’s domestic opposition will do with this. Does anyone know what Gulen and his supporters think?

      1. Jagger

        Right. Putin has a many options and he will not react in so headstrong a way as to lose them.

        The problem is public opinion in Russia. They will expect a response and Putin must respond in such a manner that he doesn’t get assassinated or couped out of a job because he did not respond forcefully. Putin is a competent or better leader but not invulnerable.

        1. hemeantwell

          My impression is that Putin’s been riding high in Russian public opinion recently. I believe he was under some pressure for not supporting the Ukrainian separatists enough, but his Syrian response was well-received. Especially after the Paris attacks and the developing cooperation with the French, you’d think he would be untouchable.

  13. ltr

    An absolute disgrace. Turkey has been encouraging and supporting the destruction of the Syrian government for years and is supporting the destructive insurgents in Syria. Turkey has betrayed the rest of NATO and betrayed Russia.

  14. Dino Reno

    Are the Turks the wild card or is this NATO’s project green light? This seems more in line with the Russians must pay for Snowden, Crimea, and Assad than Turkey going off the reservation. ISIL is once again a secondary consideration as Russia must be further backed into a corner. Holland’s request that Obama join Russia seems to have been conveniently preempted by world events. Putin is learning that there is no greater crime than embarrassing the West.

  15. Another Gordon

    Either WordPress is having a bad day or I should be more paranoid. I’ve tried four times to post a link to a credible and well-referenced background article only for it to disappear without trace each time.

    So, avoiding a direct link, go to Zero Hedge and find their post timed at 21:00 yesterday (24th November) then follow the link above the picture.

    1. Gio Bruno

      My understanding is that NC places a moderators “hold” on comments with embedded links. If approved, they eventually show up in the Comments.

  16. alex morfesis

    Perhaps this was actually a message to Iran that its new playground bully(putin) wont even stand up for itself so dont expect us to worry they will stand up for you in a firefight…

  17. JTMcPhee

    Oh, who cares?

    All there is, is “entanglements.” Attachments, alliances, alignments, allegiances, and armaments. And “agencies,” and “Elites,” and Institutions. And “interests,” always given a (rebuttable) presumption of “legitimacy,” a fig leaf of cover from some obscure page ripped from the Great Tomes o International Law (sicsicsicsicsic). Because Nations after all. And “RISK!” And “Call of Duty”!

    (For those knowledgeable about Physics, do quantum entanglements scale to visible macro universes, any poetic parables to be found there?)

    Remind me again which sets of intersecting feedback-loop Interests led to an obscure little set of sneaky covert “nationalists” murdering some minor aristocrat and his wife, thereby becoming the Narratives’ supposed triggering event (forget the Schlieffen Plan and Plan 17 from the 8th Dimension and those stolid Brits plotting and clinging to their Empire, and Wilson’s Woodie) for the sudden increase in the rate of stupid effing humans killing each other under policies, doctrines, strategies, tactics, and Orders from the High Command, while the cash drawers of the KruppFokkers went “ka-ching, ka-chang, boeing-boeing, ka-chong,” gathering in the Wealth of Nations, and the Prides of Their Youth.

    A message from the late ’60s: “War is good business– invest YOUR son!”

    How are “defence” stocks ( using the Brit orthography, since so much of the lingo of War, the Racket and its trade press, is cast in flat Upper-class Brit grammar and syntax) doing today?

    “Daddy, how do we know when we’ve won?”

    Horse ever loving sh0 t.

  18. Jim

    Yves, you should be more careful in your terminology. The individuals who killed the Russian pilots were Turkmen not Turkish.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Turkmen are ethnic Turks, and George Washington makes it clear that that he is referring to Turkish rebels inside Syria, so I don’t see what your beef is. I don’t read this as saying they are citizens or direct operatives of Turkey, which is what you seem to be charging him with. In addition, this is a cross post, and that language comes from George Washington, not me, so you might be more careful regarding your reading.

      1. McDruid

        Because he is wrong. Turkish normally refers to Turkey the country. Using that word in this context is incorrect, it implies that the rebels are Turkish citizens. It would be like saying that Timurlane was a Turkish ruler.

        1. Fiver

          You cry havoc over the most minor of details relative to the overall narrative under discussion, apparently in the attempt to prove an attitude of contempt strengthens an argument, yet fail so far as I can see here to even engage, let alone counter, the overall thrust.

          So, let’s hear your analysis, McDru. Please tell us what you think. How’d this come to pass, what do you think will happen, and why?

          1. McDruid

            Sorry, I pointed out that the author screwed up on one fairly important, and obvious, point. That calls into question his knowledge about the area and incidents. Perhaps that is why I don’t ever hear any body using reporting from the “reputable” Washington’s Blog.

            1. Fiver

              Give me a break. You went after a flea hoping nobody would notice you couldn’t touch the elephant.

              While Washington’s Blog, and plenty of other independent sources, are not always as well vetted as as one might wish, I have no problem whatever in saying that if you got your news of the world from only 2 sources, one being WB, and the other being the NYT, you’d have a far, far better handle on what’s happening via the former rather than the latter – which would deliver reviews, sports, etc., quite nicely. I’d in fact say that about many, many sources on the Internet (most of whom rely on info provided in more mainstream sources, but left to rot on back pages, and without any attempt made at genuine independent analysis, the preference in mainstream media being to just repeat whatever official blather is emitting from Washington, London, Tel Aviv, etc., no matter how vacuous, inane, absurd, already debunked, or openly belligerent, lies repeated ad nauseum in a losing effort to keep people from finding out what’s really going on.

              What happened to mainstream media is one of the great tragedies of our age. To allow such incredible concentration of power and control of information to be gathered into so few hands was perhaps the stupidest thing we’ve ever done.

              1. McDruid

                After looking over the WB I noticed two obvious problems. One of which is the sloppiness of the reporting, as evidenced by the Turkish/Turkman example. The other is the sensationalism: a lot of the evidence used is driven out beyond a reasonable conclusion, mostly at the bias of the author. The two problems reinforce each other, so that, although there may be some innovative information and insightful analysis, it is hard to discern.

                1. washunate

                  I do like your tenacity. It’s just a shame that it appears to be in the service of restricting the exchange of ideas rather than illuminating what is going on in our world.

  19. JustAnObserver

    I’m wondering if, even allowing for Erdogan’s neo-Ottoman lusts, this might actually be some half-assed attempt to stop one of Russia/Syria’s tactical objectives. Both MoonOfAlabama and SicSemperTyranis have been commenting that the military moves under way show that sealing off the Turkey/Syria border zone is a high priority. If they succeed in this and the flow of Jihadis & weapons going south and the flow of oil going north are heavily restricted then ISIS/Daesh are going to suddenly find it much harder to operate.

    1. hemeantwell

      Agreed. I’m sure that Erdogan is trying to kick over the game board, it hasn’t been going well for him recently. Unless Russia overplays the hand it now has, he’s made himself even worse off. He now has to be considering the possibility of getting hell from his right for selling out the Turkmen colonists if he doesn’t respond to an intensification of the R + 5 offensive. But, as someone said above, the politics of the Turkish army in this are very important. They must be very worried about getting caught up in overextended commitments even as NATO backs away from their idiot leader.

    1. JTMcPhee

      I’m pretty sure that an insulated Elitist like Erdogasn would not lack for gas to heat his in-your-face “palace,” even if the Evil Empire turned off the taps at that fortuitously porous Turkish “border.”

    2. different clue

      That leverage would be most effective if excercised withOUT warning after much of Turkey has entered a deep killchill freeze. Then a silent sudden turnoff of the gas could produce all kinds of destruction to freezing water-filled pipes, hypothermia death for many Turks including AKP voters, etc. If it looks like the ensuing destabilization might lead to the assumption of power by a “Kemalist Pinochet” who might prioritize the extermination of AKP down to a level where the AKP remnants can be kept under control and containment, then the RussiaGov might well keep the gas shut off till that happens. If it looks like no such thing will happen inside Turkey no matter how long the gas stays off, then the RussiaGov can decide whether to resume gas shipments to Turkey if Erdogan agrees to certain things, or maybe the RussiaGov will simply keep the gas shut off to see just how far down it can grind the Turkish economy and society in a form of dish-served-cold revenge.

  20. DJG

    From Zaman, which is very close to the Gulen movement:


    Turkey, making excuses.

    Erdogan, after the sketchy election, and after the terror bombings in Ankara, may be weaker than we suspect. Meanwhile, Obama and the Democrats play eleventy-dimensional chess. Assad is no delight, but this business of lopping off the heads of satraps didn’t work well in Iraq or Libya, now did it?

  21. ltr


    November 25, 2015

    Navigator of Downed Russian Plane Says He Was Given No Warning

    MOSCOW — The Russian navigator who parachuted out of a warplane shot down by Turkey said on Wednesday that there had been no warning before a missile slammed into the aircraft, giving him and the pilot no time to dodge the missile.

    The navigator, Capt. Konstantin V. Murakhtin, was rescued by special forces troops who followed his radio beacon and negotiated his release from the insurgents who were holding him.

    “There were no warnings from either the radio channel or visually, there was no contact at all,” he told the Interfax news agency from the Russian air base outside Latakia, Syria. The pilot, Lt. Col. Oleg A. Peshkov, was killed by ground fire from insurgents as his parachute descended.

    Captain Murakhtin’s account directly contradicted that of Turkish officials, who said the pilots had been warned 10 times in five minutes not to transgress into Turkish airspace, even the sliver of territory that the plane crossed in 17 seconds. The Russians have been adamant that the warplane was shot down over Syria, not Turkey. It crashed about two and a half miles from the border, Russia said, and the pilots parachuted into Syrian territory.

    Captain Murakhtin said that he and Colonel Peshkov had stuck to their combat flight plan and were flying their bomber in “normal mode” when the attack occurred.

    Given the speed at which they were traveling, he said, the F-16 should have flown a parallel course as a standard visual warning, the navigator said. “There was not even a threat of crossing into Turkey,” Captain Murakhtin said….

    1. Bill Smith

      “He Was Given No Warning” means almost nothing. What radio frequencies where the Russians listening to? Did they simply miss the warnings if they had a radio tuned to the right frequency – this has been know to happen given the demands of flying high performance combat aircraft. Did they miss the warnings because the Russian’s English wasn’t very good? Lots of possibilities.

      Did the Russian Ambassador pass the warnings he was given the previous week when he was called into a meeting with the Turks? Did the Russian military chain of command pass the warnings down to the Russian pilots to be a bit more careful of the border?

      The Turks never got within 5-6 km when they fired.

      Guess we are better off they didn’t shoot down both Russian planes that were there.

      1. OIFVet

        Guard channel mean anything to you? And there is a hotline between Ankara and Turkey that was not used. That’s the problem with civilians, you know little but think you know everything.

        1. JTMcPhee

          One does wonder about which missile was fired from what distance, and if the navigator is right that the hit was a complete surprise, what that says about Russian attack detection avionics and command and control and all that other effing Battlespace crap and Idiocy… All the “knights of the air” movies always have some excited jet jockey puckering up to report “Missile lock!!! Tone!!! He’s got a lock on me!!! Missile in the air!!!” and such lines, culminating in “Shitshitshit!!!” or “FUUUUUUCKK!!”…

          Just more proof of the breathtaking depth and breadth of our collective unfitness to survive… Polish officials say no more limits on greenhouse gas generation for them. (Insert politically incorrect ethnic joke here…)

          1. fajensen

            Russian attack detection avionics and command and control and all that other effing Battlespace crap and Idiocy
            They only switch on the passive ECM systems unless forced by the opposition, there is enough going on in a fighter cockpit on a normal day and they don’t want to announce to the world – who is always listening – what their active countermeasures are.

            They would see the illumination for a RADAR-guided missile, IR they will probably not see (they may have a single-pulse RADAR detecting “stuff” passing though the “bubble” created by the radar setting off a “flight-response”), or maybe the AA-missile used is one of the clever ones? A missile that travels 80% of the flight on dumb inertial navigation and then switch on the homing RADAR at the last 500 m is one of the threats that the automatic “flight-response systems” are designed to protect from. Maybe the Russians don’t have that or it’s too hairy to fly with?

    1. JTMcPhee

      All us Western white (etc.) boys are so very very very much out of our depth and reckonings when trying to play Big Cheese and Raj and all that in the shifting sands and momentary loyalties that get characterized as Byzantine for good reason. Our sneaky Pete’s and long-faced Massachusettsians pushing the interests of the formerly nation-based Corporatocracy are never even close to being in the game, especially as they try to dictate the rules and outcomes of Calvinball where the shifts are called by Others who rightly treat the Empire as sucker bait.

      Gotta remember, our guys were going to buy the loyalty of self-interested tribal Warlords with blocks of shrink wrapped used $100 bills and supplies of Viagra. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/25/AR2008122500931.html And of course weapons… Always more weapons… To ensure loyalty and compliance… Win friends and influence people… Hearts and minds, or warheads on foreheads… https://youtu.be/BojxIALX8YM

  22. RBHoughton

    Apologies for unloading a long post but you have touched a raw nerve NC

    I found the important thing from my perspective was that after Turkey did the dirty deed they instantly went to their NATO liaison – did I do good Boss – and not to Russia, who received no condolences and no explanation.

    One speculates one of the NATO warmongers (Stoltenburg, Rasmussen, Strangelove?) had noticed the finger of Turkish land pointing into Syria and said that’s the place to do the deed, we can get some support if we do it there.

    I had no idea that NATO incorporated that mutual offense/defense clause. That’s a treaty provision that UK (when it had a loud voice in the world) avoided like the plague. Now it seems a less thoughtful Europe has signed-up for it. What a trusting lot they are.

    Another query – the kill was achieved with an American fighter plane. Can Turkey do that? Is it the case that once you get the weapons you can do as you please with them?

    Is it unsurprising that a petty dictator like Erdogan, assassin of journalists and critics alike, should be the man to start a war. We have raised up many such dictators – in Ukraine, Egypt, Thailand – in preference to their democratic choices, pouring gas on the fire in an apparent wish to achieve what the little Turk has tried to achieve.

    When I think back it is Turkey that has been crying ‘havoc’ all along, encouraging the Kurds one day and killing them the next; trading with ISIS for their oil supply, providing a route for maniacal Muslims to join the fighting, buying the historical artefacts looted from Syrian and Iraqi museums and sites. The question is how far is Erdogan doing the dirty work of NATO?

    While on the subject of Syria does anyone know why we are fomenting civil war there?

    Is it like Libya, another country where the goverrnment’s voice was heard and obeyed, where people got by quite well, until we went in and financed revolution for reward. Why not Saudi where there is a far nastier regime that entertains the Bush family with public beheadings or those petty Persian Gulf states that hide under Saudi skirts and kill their citizens with impunity?

    We seeem to befriend the worst sorts of countries and attack the better ones.

  23. Fiver

    I for one think we’re past the point where the tenuous claim made in some corners that Putin and Obama and others were/are cooperating on some higher level can any longer make muster. And if it can’t, if what we are seeing is real, we have the privilege of living through one of the most dangerous periods in history. To think that a just-short-of direct confrontation of this scope for error and calamity grew out of so stunningly foolish an aim as subverting and overthrowing the President of the tiny country and State of Syria as part of a larger effort to re-make the entire region for the convenience of Israel and the Saudis, GCC and at one time, the now badly damaged Erdogan – and achieve this goal via the organization, arming, training, funding, supplying, and guiding of a lost count number of jihadist groups bent on removing Assad to replace him with a permanent majority of Sunnis many of whom are not inclined to treat Assad’s minority Alawites well, thus certain to be a fundamental stumbling bloc in the creation of some new, imagined, solution to governance in Syria having once smashed the existing State and people who make the State to rubble.

    The US response to Russia’s actions in support of Assad has escalated far faster and further than Putin would’ve imagined even a couple of weeks ago, and especially post-Paris. There are now fighters from US, France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel, Turkey and more all over Syria, the US/Saudi gift of 500 TOW missiles, US and other Special Forces all over Syria – and there’s an awful lot of fighting happening on the ground, from ‘foreigners’ in ISIS to units of Hezbollah and even Iran. There are also enough big ships off shore to present at least a dozen very high-value targets for just about anyone, including that troupe of TOW batteries, to fire off a short-range missile, into a carrier, say.

    2 Putin, portrayed by the West as a sort of cross-breed of post-Soviet oligarchic power, and therefore steps ‘below’ on the ladder in terms of ‘civilized conduct’ is no more a mere thug than any of David Cameron, Tony Blair, George Bush, Obama, Cheney, Wolfowitz et al. He is in every respect at least as ‘civilized’ as these guys, possibly more so.

    The asymmetry of interests, absolutely rock-bottom vital for Russia, the Saudis, ISIS, Assad vs the interest-concocted US, Israel and NATO make this an unqualified war of choice on the part of the US, an enormously costly, perhaps fatal error vis a vis US exercise of power in this huge, extremely dynamic region.

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