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They Know Better

The ABC version has maps: Turkey shot down a Russian aircraft. After warnings two Turkish F-16s shot down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 for a claimed violation of Turkish airspace. While the crew of the Su-24 ejected, they were killed by local forces on the ground in Syria.

First you should know that Syria shot down a Turkish aircraft for a claimed violation of Syrian airspace year or so ago, and Turkey altered its rules of engagement to deal harshly with aircraft entering Turkish airspace from Syria.

Second you should know that Turkey and Russia have been on less than friendly terms since the Ottoman Turks captured Constantinople in the middle of the 15th century. The most recent examples are the Crimean War and World War I.

The Soviets established a pattern of violating other peoples’ airspace while shooting down anyone who wanders into their claimed airspace. The Russians have continued that practice. Having chosen to support the Assad government, Russian personnel are considered enemies by all of the various opposition groups.

I will not go for a cheap laugh about Turkey and Thanksgiving, I’ll leave that for Steve Bates.

Update: The media is now reporting that the Russian pilot was killed, but the navigator/weapons officer was rescued.


1 DMC { 11.25.15 at 5:23 pm }

There’s an extensive and erudite discussion over at Ian Welch’s blog in the comments. It seems Erdogon may have more than purely political motivations.

2 Bryan { 11.25.15 at 10:57 pm }

The Turkish military has a great deal of independence from the government, so Erdogon doesn’t have the power over the military that Putin or Obama have.

Russia is an ally of Syria and has refused to coordinate its missions with the other forces fighting against ISIS.

3 Steve Bates { 11.26.15 at 6:05 pm }

I will not go for a cheap laugh about Turkey and Thanksgiving, I’ll leave that for Steve Bates.

I’m afraid you won’t get the opportunity to leave that one to me, at least not this time. When peoples become tetchy about borders, I try not to give them reason to become itchy about triggers.

4 Kryten42 { 11.26.15 at 8:03 pm }

Well said Steve! 😀 Shame on you Bryan… tch, tch… Baiting Mr. Bates like that! Ahem… 😉 😛

I have no idea what the Russians were thinking (assuming they were). Could have told them that Su-24 would get shot down. *shrug*

Sadly for the crew, they would have been better off in Turkey (probably).

5 Bryan { 11.26.15 at 9:24 pm }

The Turks and Russians/Soviets/Russians have been going at it so long, the Russians should have assumed that the Turks would have shot them down. It was arrogance on the Russian side that led them to refuse to collaborate with the other people in the area. The Turks would assume that aircraft flying without NATO IFF transmitters are ‘bad guys’.

Sorry I showed bad taste on that one, Steve, but the situation was criminally stupid. Yes, Kryten, the crew would have been better off if they had landed in Turkey rather than the area they had been dropping bombs on. Russian said that the Turks knew they were a Russian aircraft, but the Turks would have locked on and launched well before they would seen aircraft markings.

6 Steve Bates { 11.27.15 at 10:32 am }

No bad taste perceived, Bryan — hey, I like the food from both adversaries’ cultures, though I doubt I’ll ever repeat on borscht. 🙂 It’s just that both also have a history of military engagement almost as hair-trigger (hair-scimitar?) as the US, and you know I’m not a great fan of war.

7 Bryan { 11.27.15 at 10:37 pm }

There is Borscht, and then there is the real Borscht. Real Borscht is a long term project that is rarely seen where people don’t want to tie up their stove for most of a day. It’s like good bean soup.

There is definitely a lack of good will between Turkey and its neighbors, as they were all under Ottoman rule for centuries with the exception of Russia.