A Turk F-16 shot down a Russian Su-27 Fighter-Bomber over the Turkey border with Syria this morning. Both Russian pilots are reported to have ejected safely. Turkey is a member of NATO, which means that if there is a conflict with Russia, the US will be under treaty obligation to help defend Turkey. Putin has directed his military to play Cold War type games against NATO countries, including flying Backfire Bombers within a mile of a US Carrier Group, and invading the airspace of Norway, the UK, and Sweden. In flying warplanes over Turkey, he pick the wrong guys to mess with, as the Turks have always been absolute about protecting their country. Whether this means a return to the Cold War or not remains to be seen. It may also have been done intentionally to curb Putin’s aggression.
NATO member Turkey shot down a Russian warplane after it violated the country’s airspace near the Syrian border on Tuesday, officials said.
The Russian aircraft was warned 10 times in five minutes before being fired upon, according to the Turkish air force.
The incident — the first time a NATO member’s military has downed a Russian or Soviet military aircraft since the 1950s, according to Reuters — risked worsening tensions between Moscow and the West.
Within hours, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the incident a “stab in the back by terrorist helpers.”
“Do they want to have NATO serve ISIS? I understand that every state has regional interests, and we respect that, but we would never tolerate crime like today’s,” he told journalists on state television.
NATO said it would hold an extraordinary meeting later Tuesday to discuss the incident at the request of Turkish officials.
Syrian fighters on the ground and Turkish sources told NBC News that the Russian jet’s pilots ejected and landed in north of Latakia, Syria. That area is controlled by rebels fighting to topple President Bashar Assad. Russia has an air base in Latakia which is used to launch bombing raids targeting Assad’s foes — including ISIS.
Footage from Turkish Haberturk TV showed a warplane going down in flames in a wooded area with a long plume of smoke trailing behind it. Russian and Syrian regime helicopters were later seen searching the area where the jet went down, a rebel commander who goes by the name Abu Faiz told NBC News.
The head of the Turkish military briefed President Tayyip Erdogan on the incident, while Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu ordered consultations with NATO, the United Nations and related countries, Reuters reported citing their respective offices.
According to Russia’s Defense Ministry, there are 69 warplanes based in Latakia. Russian planes have run thousands of bombing raids in Syria since Sept. 30 when the Kremlin announced it would start targeting ISIS.
However, U.S. officials say many of the strikes appear to be hitting areas where ISIS doesn’t have a presence.
Putin ordered his air force to step-up bombings after a passenger plane crashed in Egypt’s Sinai on Oct. 31, killing all 224 on board. On Thursday, ISIS claimed it brought down the Metrojet plane with an improvised bomb.