Over the course of Russia’s involvement in Syria, the tension between Moscow and Ankara has grown steadily.
In short, NATO-member Turkey has accused Russian fighter jets of violating its airspace as they buzz the border on the way to hitting anti-regime targets. The escalation of hostilities between the two countries now threatens to derail billions in trade and energy deals as Erdogan recently warned Putin that Ankara may go elsewhere for its natural gas needs.
Ultimately, it isn’t about Turkey’s airspace. It’s about Ankara wanting Assad gone and Moscow wanting Assad to remain in power and indeed, the US is already using a Turkish air base as a kind of forward operating center for bombing runs, meaning NATO may well use Turkey to float conflict trial balloons to see just what the West can get away with in terms of challenging the Russians in Syria (incidentally, Erdogan has an election coming up in two weeks and a key part of the push to restore AKP's absolute majority in parliament is scaring the public into believing that Turkey is under attack and only a strong government can save it). And here's proof of that assessment:
- US OFFICIAL SAYS SUSPECTS DRONE WAS A RUSSIAN DRONE: RTRS
- UNITED STATES SUSPECTS THAT PLANE SHOT DOWN BY TURKEY WAS A RUSSIAN DRONE AIRCRAFT - U.S. OFFICIAL TELLS REUTERS
With that in mind, consider that just moments ago, Turkey shot down an unmanned drone that Ankara says violated its airspace:
- TURKEY MILITARY SAYS SHOT DOWN AIRCRAFT AT SYRIA BORDER
- TURKEY'S NTV SAYS SHOT-DOWN AIRCRAFT WAS UNMANNED DRONE
And here's the official statement (Google translated):
Today nationalities in our country's airspace at the border with Syria has been detected an unknown aircraft, although be warned three times on continuing to move our aircraft performing patrols on the border by the rules of engagement it has been reduced by fire in the frame.
Turkish Armed Forces is implementing with determination in the framework of the duties assigned to rules of engagement. "
Meanwhile, it was determined that lowering the unmanned vehicle.
Russian planes had previously violated the Syrian border Turkish airspace.
Yes, it has been "reduced by fire in the frame."
So basically, Turkey just shot down a Russian drone. Or at least that's the way it looks, as it would be peculiar if the Turkish army somehow didn't know the locations of US drones in the region.
From Russia with love:
- RUSSIA SAYS DRONES IN SYRIA FUNCTIONING NORMALLY: RIA
- RUSSIA SAYS ALL PLANES IN SYRIA RETURNED TO BASE: RIA
The lira and the ruble are not happy:
- RUBLE EXTENDS DECLINES AGAINST DOLLAR, DROPS 1.1%
- LIRA EXTENDS LOSS VS DOLLAR AFTER STATEMENT FROM TURKEY ARMY
Look out, because this may very well be the event that takes the "proxy" out of Syria's proxy war. All eyes on what, if anything, Moscow - and NATO - will respond with.
Here are the images from the scene, one of which apparently shows part of the wreckage: