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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Russian-Turkish Confrontation Escalating

by JASmius

The war of words since the second Turkish downing of a Russian warplane does not sound like it's heading in a conciliatory direction:

Russia on Wednesday accused Turkey of a "planned provocation" over the downing of a warplane on the Syrian border as a rescued pilot claimed that no warning had been given.

As the diplomatic fallout from Tuesday's incident raged on, Ankara sought to play down tensions and its allies in NATO issued urgent appeals for restraint.

Moscow said Russian and Syrian special forces had rescued one of the two pilots who ejected from the bomber as it plunged to the [ground] in a fireball but confirmed the second airman and a soldier sent to rescue him died.

In his first interview, rescued pilot Konstantin Murakhtin told Russian state media there had been no warning before his plane was shot down by Turkish fighter jets.

"There was no warning, not by radio exchange nor visually. There was no contact at all," Murakhtin said at Moscow's base in Syria, with his back to the cameras.

Turkey insists it gave ten warnings in the space of five minutes, an account backed up by its NATO ally the United States which [follows in the impotent wake of] a [fictional] coalition against Islamic State jihadists in Syria.

The downing has threatened ties between two major rival players in the Syrian war and raised fears it could escalate into a wider geopolitical conflict.

"We have serious doubts about this being an unpremeditated act, it really looks like a planned provocation," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters after speaking to Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu by phone in the first contact between the two over the incident.

"We do not plan to go to war with Turkey, our attitude toward the Turkish people has not changed," he added, but warned Moscow would "seriously reevaluate" relations with Ankara. [emphases added]

 It's difficult to see what the Turks would get out of such a "planned provocation".  Deliberately shooting down two Russian planes and then lying about it, pissing off Moscow in the process, wouldn't get them to withdraw from Syria or stop propping up Bashar al-Assad.  It might send a message to the Russians about the latter's continuing invasions of Turkish airspace, which can only be exacerbating Ankara's nervousness over being essentially surrounded by Russian forces on their northern and now southern flanks.  But if you're in that position, is provoking Moscow into further hostile actions really the wisest course of action?

The most likely possibility is that the incident unfolded as the Turks claim, and perhaps their pilots erroneously determined the Su-24 Fencer bomber to have strayed out of Syrian airspace.  A bleep-up, in other words, which would certainly comport with Ankara's fairly strenuous efforts to defuse the situation.  Whereas Czar Vlad seems to be going out of his way to opportunistically stoke tensions further.

Lavrov's statement seems to amount to, "That was strike two; three strikes and you're out".  If there are no more incidents, there will probably not be a Russo-Turkish - which is to say, Russo-NATO and therefore, Russo-American - war.  But given the situation in Syria that so easily gives rise to such situations where such mistakes can be so easily made, that non-optimal outcome sure looks like it's only a matter of time.

But since we can take it for granted that Barack Obama would throw Turkey under the bus to avoid any such conflict, let me pose this question: Will The One opportunistically use this situation to destroy NATO himself before Putin even gets the chance?  Think about it: being part of a twenty-eight-member military alliance in which an attack on any member obligates the U.S. to go to war has to be intolerable to a communist pacifist like Red Barry, who doesn't give a frog's fat leg about the rest of the world aside from promoting the Global Jihad.  He couldn't care less about Putin rebuilding the old Soviet Union or Red China recreating the old imperial Japanese "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere".  Our only connection with either are these pesky treaty obligations.  But if O can knock down NATO, for example, by screwing over Turkey in their moment of need, then Vlad can roll up the Baltic States, finish off Ukraine and retake the Warsaw Pact countries all without President Eighteenth Fairway having to give any of it a second look.

If I were the Turks, I'd be instructing my air force commanders to be a bit less hypervigilant about guarding every inch of the country's airspace.  Because their former-superpower ally is unlikely to have their back.

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