Well it’s happened. A Russian fighter jet has been shot down by Turkey.
This was an international incident just waiting to happen.
The Russians are obviously more than slightly pissed. Putin will be feeling just a little under pressure and in need of some sort of face saving gesture. The problem is that any face saving gesture might just be seen as an attack on Turkey and, please remember, Turkey is a member of NATO. And an attack on one NATO member is an attack on all NATO members. Whoops.
This whole situation is like a 1980s think tank’s scenario for World War III. A messy terrorist/civil war in a Middle-eastern country, a NATO country’s airspace being invaded by Russian aircraft and an aircraft shot down.
So what happens next?
Here are a couple of options:
- Turkey is forced to back down, apologise and give the Russians a free hand in the air in the Turkey/Syria border area. (This maybe the best option for the continued existence of the human race but, I suspect, only if the rest of NATO give Turkey a massive financial reason to publicly take a diplomatic drubbing from Russia)
- The Russians back down, apologise to the Turks and eat a large portion of humble pie on the international stage. (I cannot see this happening as it will do immense damage to Putin on the domestic stage. I get the feeling that he’d rather start a war than see himself diminished in the eyes of the Russian people))
- Russia gives Turkey a bloody nose (e.g. a cruise missile attack on Turkish military assets) whilst daring NATO to do something about this. (Not good. NATO either pitches in to support Turkey and World War III ensues OR NATO abandons Turkey and is left without any credibility)
“You pays your money and you takes your chances.”